Food is the Route to Peace

A few days ago, I wrote about cooking lunch in the TLC kitchen. I wanted to take the time to expand on this, to share some of the stories and comments from the cafe, all revolving around one concept, often referred to in the context of romance; the way to a man’s heart is his stomach. Well, I think we should expand that to something like, ‘the way to find and give love is through cooking’. It actually reminds me of a quote I shared from chef Yotam Ottolenghi in an earlier blog post (could it really be three years ago already?!). He said,  referring to the different recipes and ways to make hummous; ‘perhaps where politics has failed, hummous is the answer’. Well, Yotam, I invite you to come to our cafe here in Harehills, because you will certainly find love in all the cooking we do, and from people from all parts of the world, who are coming together to cook, share recipes, learn tips, and, of course, eat and enjoy the food:

  • a new volunteer from Spain made a Spanish omelette last week. He taught another volunteer, a Pakistani lady, who told me it was absolutely delicious and she was going to make it for her elderly mother for dinner that night.
  • loads of browning bananas this week were turned into banana milkshake, and banana cake. There were a couple of bags of chocolate covered raisins in the cupboard that I chucked in. The feedback was extraordinarily positive and many people are going to do this at home now. I can’t adequately describe the happy feeling I had, knowing that I had inspired others with their baking!
  • The moment when our Canadian volunteer, scrabbling around for ingredients to make one of her superfood lunch dishes, found the quinoa in the cupboard and declared happily, ‘Ah here we go – yes!’ Another volunteer, an older British lady, remarked what a wonder in the kitchen she is and how inspiring she is to her.
  • Discussing the curry episode that I wrote about earlier in the week, with some of the wonderful Pakistani ladies, I learnt how to stop the rice from sticking and turning to mush in the pan; it’s all about washing the rice thoroughly before cooking it. Don’t tell everyone!
  • Talking about rice; watching another Pakistani volunteer lovingly make the rice and caress it gently with her hands. There really is love in every action when she’s cooking. I have learned from her not to just dump it in and hope for the best, but to respect every ingredient and show it some love!
  • And of course, all the conversations of new and old friends, in the cafe, enjoying the culinary creations and creating the atmosphere that really can only be described as a taste of world peace.
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