Last week our box from Blaencamel Farm looked like a picture of autumn itself. Whilst new crops like squashes are being harvested some of the summer crops like the last of the tomatoes and chillies are still going. The greens, such as Cavolo Nero, are a darker shade. My seasonal compass is navigated towards deeper flavours, with spice combinations that help us transition seasons comforting us during the first frosts.
This dish I cooked and loved a lot last year. It grew from my fascination with how spices and ingredients fuse and connect culinary cultures. And it uses some of my most loved ingredients. Dill as herb much loved in Northern Greece where I am from but also prolific in Iranian and Ukrainian cuisines. Cumin for us Greeks of the eastern side (just a pinch mind). Caraway, a key spice for the soothing borscht and much Ukrainian cooking. Sour grape powder typical in Iranian cooking. Goji berries instead of the Iranian barberry. Turmeric, ginger, beetroot, pomegranates, tomatoes, parsley… You can see where this is going. It’s a tasty cure on a plate. You can replace some of the fresh turmeric and ginger with powder although I think it is much nicer when fresh is used. I serve this dish with brown rice.
Order your seasonal Blaencamel veg box online www.blanecamelbox.com or by email to Tom Frost (Tom@blaencamelbox.com). Find out more about Lia’s Kitchen and subscribe on Lia’s newsletters here www.liaskitchen.com
Ingredients (Feeds 6 people)
- 1 small Hokaido butternut squash
- 250g beetroot (raw grated or small cubes or pre-cooked and cubed)
- 200g cherry tomatoes halved or whole (1 Blaencamel punnet –)
- 1 onion, sliced
- 4 cloves garlic roughly chopped
- 200-300g of autumn greens, roughly chopped (kale, Cavolo nero or Japanese greens will do as)
- 1 Hungarian wax chilli (optional)
- 5cm turmeric chunk grated OR 1tsp. turmeric powder
- 3cm ginger chunk grated OR ½ tsp ginger powder
- 1 tsp sweet paprika powder
- Pinch of cumin or cumin seeds
- ½ tsp. caraway seeds
- 1 Tbsp. fresh dill OR 1 tsp dried dill (both heaped)
- 30g fresh parsley chopped
- ½ tsp sour cherry powder (optional – available at middle eastern shops)
- Pinch of oregano
- 1 small handful of dried goji berries
- Juice of one lemon or half an orange
- 1 can pre-cooked beans (recommend borlotti or cannellini but use what you have)
- Up to 2 cups hot water or vegetable stock(500ml)
- Pomegranate seeds (optional)
- 2tsp sea salt
Preparation (approximately one hour)
- Place the goji berries in citrus juice for the duration of the preparation.
- Peel and grate or cube the beetroot. If using cooked beetroot cook an hour before prep starts.
- Halve the squash and remove seeds with a tablespoon. Peel, slice and cube in 5 cm chunks (not too small).
- Stir fry the onion, 1 tsp salt and spices (cumin, caraway, paprika, turmeric, ginger and sour cherry &chilly if using) for five minutes on low heat to soften and release aromas.
- Add the garlic and oregano stir fry for a couple more minutes.
- Add the squash, beetroot and beans and stir well.
- Add the softened goji berries with the citrus juice, the chopped dill and parsley. Stir well.
- Add the hot water or stock with another tsp of salt.
- Stir well, cover and simmer for thirty minutes. Then add the greens and simmer for another fifteen minutes.
- Enjoy with a dollop of Greek yoghurt, walnuts and honey and pomegranate seed or apple if you fancy a fruity taste.
On 21 May 2017 Melissa (Penylan Pantry), Sam and Shauna (Hangfire), Bettina (Brød-The Danish Bakery), Goldie (Samosaco), Ericka Duffy (cocktail and taste expert), Ashli (Spillers Records) and I worked together to deliver a unique night of food, drink and music. What united us, apart from our extremely worthy cause to raise money for Action Against Hunger, is our passion about women leading the way in food business and good, ethical, tasty food. We delivered this event under the banner of Meal Squared, a format that delivers collaborative events and which Melissa set up last year to strengthen Cardiff’s growing independent business community.
The inspiration for Cooking From the Heartland came from the ‘Severn Sisters’ Bristol dinner organised by Romy Gill MBE and Kim Somauroo in autumn 2016. It involved women from different food cultures to create a female feast. ‘We were so inspired by our experience [of attending the event] that we decided to have our own version in Wales. Our feast, ‘Cooking from our heartland’ is inspired by the international drinks, food and music makers we know and love’, say Sam and Shauna. For me and the other women who were approached to participate in this evening there was no doubt that this was going to be our kind of fun.
This is the story of our coming together. It tells you why we chose Action Against Hunger, what ‘Cooking from the Heartland’ means to us and why we think it is so important that women work together…
I would particularly like to thank Oliveology, Blaencamel Farm, Cig Lodor Meat, All Greek Delicatessen, CocoCaravanCocoCaravan for donating ingredients for the mezze platter and dessert I prepared for the event. A massive thanks to all the other women who volunteered and worked hard on the night . And to Kas of Waterloo Tea who gave us access to his amazing restaurant/coffee house in Wyndham Arcade to run the event.
We chose Action Against Hunger because …
‘165 million people suffer from childhood malnutrition. If they joined hands, they could form a complete circle around the earth. I think this says it all.’ (Mel, Penylan Pantry)
‘When we started Hang Fire, we sofa surfed for the first year, ploughing every penny from the last pop-up back into next. Now that we have a roof over our heads, we think if you have two quid, you have a quid to share. It’s important to always give a something back. Action Against Hunger does amazing work all year round, both at home and further afield. It is our chosen partner charity this year. With everything happening in the world right now, we need to keep looking out for each other and help those who aren’t as fortunate as us.’ (Sam & Shauna, Hangfire)
‘We’re told that we’re living in exciting times of such progress and achievements in the sphere of technological development and medical advancements, yet so many children are going hungry and die of malnutrition. That isn’t right. Thank goodness for Action Against Hunger for making it their business to help those who are less fortunate.’ (Ashli, Spillers Records)
‘Nobody is immune to misfortune. People’s lives change overnight through war, unemployment, illness. People go hungry in Wales. Refugees walk thousands of miles to safety, water and food. In Greece people like us bin-dive to find food. Recently, at food community project in Uganda I often drove past international relief lorries transporting food to South Sudan and Yemen on a massive scale. I support Action Against Hunger with all my heart’. (Lia, Lia’s Kitchen)
Cooking from our heartland means ….
‘Seasonal, free thinking, creative cooking inspires me. I love nutritious, wholesome ingredients, that are good for your health, soul and mind. My heartland is wherever I happen to fall. I like to cook with local produce from the surrounding area. I feel strongly that the best way to know a new place, is to get stuck into the local food culture.’ (Mel, Penylan Pantry)
‘We are Celts and experts in the art of slow cooking and smoking. Cooking from our heartland brings those two things together to create our own version of Southern Wales style BBQ using great local produce. We take the best that the UK has to offer and couple it with the cooking techniques we learned in the States all to a soundtrack by Dolly Parton!’ (Sam & Shauna, Hangfire)
‘Baking is an important connection to my birthland. Moving to Wales in 1998, I quickly felt at home but always missed Danish bread. The rubbish Danish Pastries in the UK meant I had to set the record straight. My heartland is with my grandfather (FarFar) who was a baker in central København. My mother, grandmother and I baked to his tales of making bread (brød), pastries and cake. I’ve kept going and now I can do the same for you through Brød.’ (Bettina, Brød)
‘We live in an age where access to “stuff” in unlimited. Every thing’s a commodity. You can hear music from a culture a million miles removed from your own. You have access to ingredients from lands far and wide. Anything goes. This creates an exciting palette for a music fan or food lover. But if something is made with passion, with heart and soul oozing out of it, it hits you in the solar plexus and resonates. That sort of passion is the difference between wholesale, mass produced for the highest margin return and the real deal. I think that the unifying thing about the team bringing this event together is that we are only interested in the real deal. It’s all about passion.’ (Ashli, Spillers Records)
‘The Heartland theme meant exploring my connection to Wales which for me revolves around art and literature. My cocktails are inspired by the Davies sisters who contributed much to the artwork and culture that enthrals me about Wales. They bought whole galleries of artwork (Monets, Manets, Rodins). They established Gregynog Hall as a centre of excellence for the arts, crafts and music. Most importantly, the Davies Sisters took in Belgian refugees including the sculptor George Minne, and the painters Valerius de Saedeleer and Gustave van de Woestyne. All three artists were to spend the rest of World War I largely dependent on the Davies family for support. You can visit the Davies Galleries at National Museum of Wales, Cardiff.’ (Ericka Duffy, Cocktail and taste expert)
‘Cooking from the heartland brings you the taste of my Greece whilst mixing it with world food influences, and good Welsh/UK produce I discovered in the past twenty years living away from the birth land. My platter is about ingredients from some of the businesses involved in the collaboration, whilst I introduce you to some of my favourite Greek and Welsh, UK- based businesses. And every dish reminds me of someone I love. My Yaya (Grandma) for the boozy tzatziki, my Mana (Mom) for the meatballs and my Aderfo (brother) for the fava dip.’ (Lia, Lia’s Kitchen)
Women should work together …
‘Women make up 43% of the agricultural labor force in developing countries, and account for about two-thirds of the world’s 600 million livestock keepers. Still to this day millions of women and girls around the world are discriminated against simply because they are born female. Events like International women’s day send a message of unity, solidarity and compassion. I hope MealSq Menywod sends out the same message on a smaller scale. Gender discrimination should not be accepted in this day and age.’ (Mel, Penylan Pantry)
‘We have always championed the idea of bridging the gender gap in any industry, and the hospitality industry is no different. We’re surrounded by talented, courageous women who are a daily inspiration to us. It’s a great privilege to come together and produce an event that is not only authentic but heartfelt from some incredible women truly passionate about what they do.’ (Sam & Shauna, Hangfire)
‘In the words of Poly Styrene “Some people think little girls should be seen and not heard. But I think “oh bondage, up yours!”. Being a go-getting female with a lot of knowledge in your field, you often have to play down your expertise and shrink below your ambitions. With politics at the forefront of many people’s minds at the moment, it’s important to remember that not so long ago women were denied the basic human right to have our say. But let’s not forget we are the lucky ones. Many women worldwide still do not have the right to exercise their own choice. In the face of regressive steps the world has taken lately we must continue to fight for our rights and demand equality.’ (Ashli, Spillers Records)
‘I like working with inspirational people, both men and women. But I think this is an event that shows how we women can support each other in business.’ (Bettina, Brød)
‘This meal presents females who work in flavour and taste – each of us in traditionally male-dominated fields. Between our different skillsets, point-of-view, and aesthetics there is a collaboration occurring – from baking, Greek cuisine, smoking, cheese pairing, cocktail mixing, and the music selection by the World’s Oldest Record shop.’ (Ericka Duffy, Cocktail and taste expert)
‘I have had fun and struggles being a female immigrant claiming my place in Britain! As a Greek girl, I was often stereotyped to suit the service industry just fine but some people were shocked I was also a law graduate, a young lecturer or that I chose to start my own food venture. I have had many lives. I refuse to be pigeonholed. And women should fight together against prejudice. Antagonism is not a female trait so it’s time to resist being turned into alpha-males. Our global village relies on running it together. There is space for everyone. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.’ (Lia, Lia’s Kitchen)
A recipe inspired by the way Iranians make their open omelette or frittata, known as Kuku. It uses March’s seasonal vegetable like carrots and spinach still abundant at Blaencamel farm and in their weekly organic vegetable boxes. This type of frittata uses a generous quantity of ingredients so don’t be surprised when you see how much vegetable goes in it – it is what sets it apart from other open omelettes.
You can find Blaencamel farm vegetables at both Farmers’ markets in Cardiff, Roath and Riverside, on Saturday and Sunday respectively, but also in Aberystwyth and their own farm shop. Order their boxes here.
Ingredients (4 portions)
- 250g (3 medium) carrots, coarsely grated
- 150g spinach, finely chopped
- 15g (half a small bunch) parsley, finely chopped
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 50g sundried tomatoes or mixed antipasti e.g. peppers and artichokes, finely chopped
- 30g cashews, chopped
- 3 Tbsp. Goji berries (optional)
- Fresh mandarin or orange juice
- 100g (half a pack) feta cheese, crumbled
- ½ tsp. ground cumin
- A generous pinch of smoked or regular sweet paprika
- ½ tsp oregano
- 1 generous pinch of saffron strands
- 2 Tbsp. flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 6 eggs
- 2 generous pinches of salt
- ½ tsp. sugar
- Olive oil
Preparation (30 minutes)
- Add enough fresh mandarin or orange juice to cover the goji berries in a small bowl or mug. Infuse whilst prepping.
- Add a tablespoon (or two) of olive oil to a 20 to 25cm non-stick pan, and sauté the onion on low heat with a pinch of salt and the sugar until it caramelises (5-10 min).
- Pound the saffron in a bowl with a rolling pin, beat in the eggs and allow time for the saffron to infuse in them.
- Remove the onions from the pan, add another tablespoon of oil, add the carrots and cumin. Sauté until soft (5 min).
- Return the onions to the frying pan, add the goji berries, cashews, sundried tomatoes and antipasti. Mix well.
- Add the spinach and parsley little by little so that it slightly wilts. You don’t need to cook your spinach much or at all but you might choose to wilt it a bit of you are using a smaller pan.
- Add the flour, pinch of salt, baking powder, paprika and oregano to the eggs and beat until the flour is mixed well and to give the eggs some volume and softness.
- Mix into the pan gradually and carefully making sure the beaten egg goes to the bottom of the pan and mixes in well between the abundant ingredients to hold them together. The pan should remain on low heat all this time.
- Make sure that the ingredients are spread evenly on the pan and sprinkle the feta cheese on top.
- After firming up the frittata on the hob for a couple of minutes, you can cook the frittata in two ways: a) If your pan is heat resistant place it in a preheated oven for about 10-15 minutes at 180-200 degrees –cover with a lid or aluminium foil for half the time, or b) Cover the pan with a lid or plate. Continue cooking on the hob on low heat for 8 to 10 minutes. Then place under a preheated grill for a couple of minutes or until golden and risen.
- If using a 20cm pan it should be at least 5cm dip to make a cake like frittata that will rise.
- You can choose to omit or include ingredients on this list. It is also very easy to replace them. For example goji berries can be replaced with cranberries or even barberries if you prefer an authentic Iranian taste.
Last week the amazing We Are Cardiff blog asked me to develop a recipe for them! And here it is together with the full blog.
Remember to find out more about Greek food join one of Lia’s Kitchen intimate cooking classes on 3 and 10 February. I will be introducing participants to Greek Kitchen basics but will also be sharing Greek flavours and recipes that are not yet widely known in the UK. You can book online here www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/lias-kitchen-7901836356.
Or contact Lia for more information at email@example.com.
Rosemary Baron is keeping me company with her book about Greece and its food. I love reading others’ take on Greek food and this lady being an archaeologist is a very credible, unbiased source of information. She says, ‘the ancient Greeks regarded cooking as both an art and a science and throughput the ancient world Greek chefs were accorded the status and reputation that French chefs now enjoy. The principles and practice of fine cooking and gastronomy as we know it today were first established in the abundantly stocked and highly creative kitchens of Ancient Greece, and modern Greeks still enjoy the foods and tastes that inspired the chefs of antiquity’.
Rosemary Baron goes on to talk about the height of the Minoan civilization and trade with North Africa, which helped create a small garden of Eden in Crete that influenced Hellenistic cooking. At the height of the Roman civilization Greek chefs and teachers were sought after and employed in the Roman homes and kitchens, and according to Baron it seems under their tutelage the amazing, distinct Italian cuisine developed. Then the Byzantine empire helped the influence of Greek cooking influence travel further. And then during the occupation of the Franks, Venetians, Ottomans eastern and other influences arrived, and tribes like the Vlachs brought spices like my beloved paprika.
I am certain Greek chefs embraced new ingredients and influences from other cultures. The early Greek diet of olives, wheat, figs, grapes, wild greens, fish and a little meat was enriched with ingredients such as lemons, potatoes, aubergines, tomatoes, spinach, okra introduced by trade, but also war and occupation.
The silver lining is that even dark times of occupation were still characterized by culinary and cultural diversity. In her book Baron clearly asserts that the hybridity between Greek, eastern and even Balkan cuisine was mostly nurtured during the more peaceful Byzantine times rather than the Ottoman Empire. But I am sure that the Ottomans have helped many dishes travel through Greek chefs to new parts of their Empire where other cultures also embraced and adapted them.
What fascinates me is Baron’s explanation that during Ottoman times Greeks, who were forbidden to speak their own language, were forced to use Turkish names for dishes such as the now famous moussaka, boureki, dolmades, losing the connection of the dishes to their origins. As children we were taught about secret Greek schools during the Ottoman occupation. They were the underground hubs of language that kept Greek alive but I didn’t know that Greek chefs also took refuge in monasteries for their safety and to safeguard centuries of culinary knowledge!!! Apparently there they wore tall white toques which distinguished them from the monks – the toque is now the chef hat and symbol throughout the world.
Food and its love travel well even at the worse of times. It is a beacon of hope and should connect rather than divide. What I know as traditional and modern Greek cuisine is a real testament to that, and it is a lot more diverse than just the delicious feta and tzatziki.
You can now join my 2017 cooking classes telling you the story of my Greek kitchen. Classes include an Introduction to Greek Kitchen Basics; The Greek Flavours no one is telling you about; The Art of Greek Pie; The Magical Art of spice mixing.
Watch Rick Stein’s programme about Thessaloniki, Greece and its food to find out more about my city of birth and what you might get during our courses: http://bbc.in/2gnRaMQ.
It is finally pumpkin and winter quash season! The sweetness of this fantastic vegetable is ideal for moreish, savoury dishes and their salty flavours, which is exactly what I have developed for you this month. The recipes at the end of this blog are inspired by the seasonal ingredients of the November’s Riverside Market Garden vegetable box, such as leeks, fresh onions, sweet and chili peppers, and squash. But also the flavours of sage, mushrooms – currently still popping up in the Welsh forests – and chestnuts, the season of which is beginning. I really hope you enjoy the recipes, one of which is a quicker stir fry, for days when time is precious, whilst the other allows all you skilful foodies to explore making shortcrust pastry with pumpkin flesh instead of butter!
The trickiest part of cooking pumpkin or winter squash is peeling its tougher skin. Other than this the versatile vegetable cooks easily and quickly. Its flesh roasts in about half an hour (you can leave the skin on), it stir fries in around twenty minutes when diced and much quicker than that when grated. And finally it boils in about fifteen minutes.
The most obvious dish for pumpkin or squash, apart from pie, is soup. The easiest one you can make (and my favourite) does not even really need a recipe. Just roast a medium pumpkin, sliced with the skin, in a bit of olive oil, salt, thyme and 3-4 unpeeled cloves of garlic for half an hour in the oven. When baked place the flesh of the garlic and pumpkin in a pot, add at least 700ml of hot stock (say for 500g squash) and blend with a hand mixed or mash. Your soup is ready and you don’t even need to boil it!
Another idea if you don’t have much time is to scrub the skin of the pumpkin clean, cut it in half, scoop the seeds and stringy bits out with a spoon, drizzle it with olive oil and bake for forty minutes. When baked you can scoop out the flesh, mash it with a generous amount of grated cheese and herbs, and if you like some cooked lentils. Refill the pumpkin or squash halves and grill for another 10 minutes until golden!
I literally could go on forever about the numerous savoury bakes and sweet pies you can make with pumpkin but why not start by trying the two recipes below first. And if you need more inspiration come back to me. We are definitely not done with the squash season just yet.
Sunny autumn Cretan stir fry
Ingredients (4-6 portions)
- 500g diced pumpkin or squash (up to)
- 4 spring onions or 3 leeks or 1 dry onion
- 2 peppers (red or green)
- Half a garlic bulb
- ½ chilli pepper finely chopped
- 1 tbsp sundried tomato paste (optional)
- 200g pre-cooked chestnuts
- 100g pitted black olives
- 2 bay leaves (optional)
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 100g couscous
- 1 cup white wine or vegetable stock
- One small bunch of parsley (30 gr)
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
Preparation (45 minutes)
- Peel and dice the pumpkin or squash in small cubes (2cm).
- Chop the spring onion (or leek/onion) and peppers.
- Stir fry in 3 tablespoons of olive oil, the bay leaves and thyme with a pinch of salt for 3 minutes.
- Stir in the sundried tomato paste, pumpkin, chestnuts, olives, garlic with the skin on, a pinch of salt and some more olive oil.
- Stir fry, cover and cook for up to 30 minutes until the pumpkin is (no need to add water).
- Once the pumpkin is soft, add the wine or stock and bring to the boil.
- Remove from heat, add the couscous, cover and set aside for 5 minutes.
- Season to taste, sprinkle with chopped parsley and drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil.
- If you don’t have access to chestnuts why not use 200g of mushrooms instead, dice and stir fry at the same time as the squash.
- You can use plain tomato paste if you don’t have access to sundried tomato paste.
- If the pumpkin is particularly tough you could add a couple of tablespoons of water to help it cook quicker
Savoury pumpkin and mushroom pie
Ingredients (4-6 portions)
For the dough
- 200g pumpkin (diced)
- 300g plain flour
- 1 eggs +1 egg yolk beaten
For the filling
- 200g pumpkin (diced)
- 50g dried mushrooms
- 4 spring onions or 3 leeks or 1 dry onion
- 2 bay leaves (optional)
- 1 small bunch sage (leaves only)
- 50g of butter
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 30g grated parmesan
- 100g grated cheddar
- 100ml double cream or Greek yoghurt
- 1 egg beaten
- Melted butter for the pastry
- 1 tsp of the beaten egg for the glazing
- Salt and pepper to season
- Some olive oil to cook the pumpkin
- Peel and dice the pumpkin or squash (all 400g for both the dough and the filling) in 2cm cubes.
- Bake or stir fry for 30 minutes or until soft after dressing in olive oil and adding a pinch of salt.
- Soak the dried mushrooms in hot water for 30 minutes to reconstitute. Alternatively use 300g fresh mushrooms stir fried in butter with a pinch of salt.
- Slice the spring onions and fry in half the butter (25g) with the bay leaves and thyme.
- Add the mushrooms, a pinch of salt and pepper, and stir fry until coated in the buttery glaze.
- Melt the rest of the butter in a separate frying pan and fry the sage leaves until crispy (set aside).
- Separate the pumpkin in half, add 200g to the mushroom filling and mash the rest.
- Add the cream, egg and parmesan to the cooled mushroom filling, remove the bay leaves and season to taste.
- Mix the mashed pumpkin, the beaten egg and yolk, a pinch of salt and the flour. Knead for five minutes into a shortcrust dough.
- Separate the dough into two equal balls.
- Roll out two dough sheets (3cm) on a lightly floured surface in the shape of your baking tray (20cm round).
- Line the baking tray with some melted butter and the one dough sheet.
- Sprinkle with the grated cheddar and the fried sage leaves.
- Add the filling and spread evenly.
- Add the second dough sheet, pressing the corners with your finger tips to bind the two dough sheets together and to create a nice finish for the rim of the pie.
- Brush with some melted butter and a teaspoon of beaten egg you have kept aside.
- Bake for 30 – 40 minutes until the top is golden.
- If you don’t have some of the ingredients feel free to improvise. For example, use yoghurt if you don’t have cream, an extra pinch of salt if you don’t have parmesan which you can replace with other cheese.
- If the dough is too crumbly to roll you can press it down flat with your fingers. And you can crumble the top sheet for a savoury crumble dish. If you do this add some crushed nuts or seeds.
- This pie is delicious with gluten free flour too.
This morning I thought I had missed call from someone I have worked during the last two very intense years of my water related job (which takes up most of my time during the week). He has accepted a job in a faraway warm rich place and I had sent him a farewell card. I called him back to wish him well, thinking it was his last day at work. At this stage of our testing professional relationship, having been through intense challenges, trials and tribulations, we could just be human, and focus on the person immigrating to a different country, leaving their home behind, regardless of whether this is done happily or sadly. So it was to my surprise that at the end of the conversation he chose to say something awkward. It aimed to question the role of the hard working organisation I spend almost all of my working week at to protect the interests of the public in a private UK water industry. Still I obliged him. It was not personal, he’s a good guy, it was probably his way of joking and he was making small talk whilst I was calling to wish him good luck from the bottom of my heart.
Straight after that I went to Oasis, a refugee charity in Cardiff, where hundreds of refugees and asylum seekers, migrants or immigrants, receive support and food every week. I found myself in the kitchen with women from Ghana, India, Uganda, Zambia, Albania whilst they were cooking a meal for ninety odd people who will have lunch at Oasis today. I met them for the first time. They all probably have interesting stories, perhaps some of these stories are harrowing. Some of them have their children at their home country whilst they work here. Still they opened their mind and their arms to me as soon as I walked in. You know that sense of that we are all in it together? That’s what I felt.
This morning I felt relieved as I was putting the phone down, being thankful for the bad signal that interrupted the awkward final bit of my discussion with a newly appointed ex-pat . And as I was leaving Oasis I felt grateful to Reynette and the women in the Oasis kitchen for opening their door to me, to cook, to share & record their recipes and listen to their experiences. As a human.
I think I know for good which conversation I’d rather be in.