THE POWER OF COOKING GOES WAY BEYOND THE FOOD
Two weeks ago Meghan Markle launched her first charity initiative as a royal, the recipe book Together: Our Community Cookbook. The recipes share the stories of West London community members coming together at the Al Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre kitchen to cook for their families and neighbours after the devastating Grenfell Tower Fire.
They became known as the Hubb Community Kitchen (hubb means “love” in Arabic) and as more local people have joined the cooking sessions so the kitchen has become a sanctuary of good food, love, support and friendship.
Another part of the story is the royal connection. Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, visited the kitchen in January and her subsequent visits have cemented a connection to the community kitchen. It was this connection which helped germinate the idea of a cookbook. Her commitment and passion is felt in the foreword to the book.
In it she explains how earlier this year when she was settling in to her new home in London, she made a quiet trip to the Al Mannar mosque kitchen where “an apron was quickly wrapped around me, I pushed up my sleeves and I found myself washing the rice for lunch”.
The duchess shared a few other notes about the experience:
• The kitchen is cozy and brightly lit, scented with cardamom, curry and ginger. • It will take you about 15 minutes to enter the room as you will joyfully be greeted by kisses (cheek x 3) by each of the incredible women there.
• You will find yourself in a melting pot of cultures and personalities who have roots in Uganda, Iraq, Morocco, India, Russia and at least 10 other countries. • You will feel joyful in their company, and you will leave counting the days until you go back. — Hilary Biller
All proceeds of the sale of ‘Together: Our Community Cookbook’ (published by Ebury Press/ Penguin Random House) will go to the Hubb Community Kitchen to strengthen lives and communities through cooking. The hardcover cookbook will be available in South African book stores from November 12, for R455.