I love food. I love everything about it. I love planning meals, shopping for ingredients, growing vegetables, searching for recipes, pottering around the kitchen, cooking, baking, eating, experimenting, reading, watching, sharing... I love it all.
Until recently though, I didn’t really understand how important food is to me - and my life. To make a long story very short, last October I ended up in hospital literally unable to eat. Over the past six months I have learned a lot about my relationship with food – and its role in my immigrant identity. I am from Canada, but now live in the United Kingdom. While food has always played a big part in my life, it has become increasingly important since living away from family, friends, and the familiar. I use food as a connection to home. And I know that I am not alone in this.
As is typical with me, I arrived at this realisation by pouring my thoughts out onto Twitter. In the process, I said that I would love to write an immigrants’ cookbook: filled with the recipes that people turn to when they feel homesick, alongside their stories. Imagine having an entire book overflowing with foods that you know are a source of comfort. Recipes from all over the world, tastes that have travelled with people, stories that have been shared around new tables, all brought together in one place.
The next day when I woke up, I still wanted this book to exist. But I thought that maybe I should start small. Winning the Listserve has come at the perfect time, because I’m finally ready to do something with this idea. I now have a platform to contact people all over the world, to say:
We all have a go-to recipe when we need a food hug, whether we have moved across an ocean to a new country or simply over a set of hills to the next county.
If you have a recipe or story that you would like to share, please reply to this e-mail. It would be wonderful to know where you consider home, where you currently live, and in addition to your go-to recipe, a little bit about what it means to you.
I can’t promise that this will end in a book, but I do have plans to at the very least share these recipes and stories online (with permission).
If you’re curious, my own go-to comfort food (or at least the one that I go-to most frequently), is my mother’s Caesar salad recipe, which includes so much garlic that the next morning you wake up and are still reminded of home. I’ll give you a copy of the recipe, if you do reply.
If you’re not really into recipe sharing, but you’re still into food, here are some recommendations for a few TV programmes that I’ve been enjoying recently:
Heston’s Dinner in Space (Channel 4) is an extreme example of the idea at the heart of The Immigrants’ Cookbook, about the importance of having comfort foods when living aboard the International Space Station.
Cooked (Netflix) looks at the evolution and history of food, its preparation, and what it means to us, as humans.
Food Unwrapped (Channel 4) is a very entertaining and highly educational look into the global food industry and economy.
Oh, and Masterchef (BBC One) starts again this week. The good version too, with normal folk and not professionals or celebrities.
Thanks for reading. Happy eating,