“Passport on a Plate”
Barb and I have been friends since our student days at Purdue, and have shared many meals and recipes over the years.
Recently I sent Barb a cookbook link which I thought took family and community meals to an inspiring level.
Together: Our Community Cookbook was created by the women of the Hubb Community Kitchen with the support of HRH The Duchess of Sussex (nee Meghan Markle). The kitchen, based in the Al-Manaar community center in West London, was opened soon after the Grenfell Tower tragedy to provide space for the displaced women to cook for their families two days a week. The Duchess helped organize this cookbook to raise funds to keep the kitchen open seven days a week.
Cookbooks are a dime a dozen, and fund-raiser cookbooks are nothing new. This book has been flying off the shelves since it was released a few weeks ago. On October 1, it was #32 on the Amazon best-seller list and sold nearly 11,000 copies in the UK during its first week. What makes it so popular?
Certainly part of its allure is the connection to royalty; however, this book expands one’s horizons. In the forward, the Duchess says “Within this kitchen’s walls, there exists not only the communal bond of togetherness through sharing of food, but also a cultural diversity that creates what I would describe as a passport on a plate: the power of a meal to take you to places you’ve never been, or transport you right back to where you came from.”
The Hubb Community Kitchen cooks and their recipes are from a melting-pot of locations including Algeria, Lebanon, Morocco, Russia, Uganda, Yemen, Baghdad, Mumbai, Ireland, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, Iraq, Tanzania, Egypt, India, Ethiopia, Syria, Sicily, and France. When my (Lisa’s) children were young, we talked about “taste safaris” to explore new foods. This book provides a magic carpet ride through Arabian, Asian, Persian, Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine.
After obtaining my own copy of the cookbook, I made the Jeera Chicken recipe by Mama Jay and Jay-Jay on page 74 of Together: Our Community Cookbook. I chose this recipe because I had most of the ingredients already, and have been experimenting with curries this year. It was easy to follow the recipe, and the final dish was tasty. I served it with brown rice, oven-roasted curried cauliflower, and fruit. The photos at the beginning of the article show the assembled ingredients and the finished dish.
At the back of the book is a section titled “Cooking in the Community.” This excerpt sums up the project and offers a challenge:
Every dish tells a unique story of history, culture and family, personally introduced by the women on each page. These memories remind us that Together is more than a cookbook; it is a storybook of a West London community and how the act of cooking together has helped them connect, heal, and look forward. At the heart of this book is the message that a simple, shared dish can create connections between people, restore hope and normality, and provide a sense of home—wherever you may be in the world.
If Together has inspired you, we’d love to hear about it. You may already cook within your community, or cooking and sharing food has helped you or others through a time of adversity. Perhaps swapping much-loved recipes has brought your closer to your neighbors and helped to celebrate diversity in your community. Or maybe you simply have a special memory of a particular dish that is meaningful to you.
If, like us, you are passionate about how food can tell a story and bring people together, we would love to hear from you. Connect with us at:
For more information on the Grenfell Tower tragedy:
The cookbook is available at many bookstores in the United States or online:
Together: Our Community Cookbook is published by Ebury Press, Penguin Random House, United Kingdom.
To learn more about Lisa, check out her story on our community page:
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