Food has been on my mind a lot over the past few weeks – and, no, it has nothing to do with lockdown-bolstered eating and drinking! Although I’m sure I’m not the first to admit the fridge has become my new best friend during this pandemic.
This Wednesday, my stint on Celebrity MasterChef finally comes to our TV screens and, although I already know the outcome, I’m looking forward to watching my attempts at impressing John and Gregg.
After turning 60, I decided it was about time I learned how to cook, and joining the show sounded like a great opportunity to try my hand at something new. Plus, I always jump at the chance to meet new people from different walks of life, and this year’s series has a fantastic line-up.
Cooking and eating together certainly creates a special bond between people and it can be a great way to bring communities together – something I discovered when I popped by a special project in the east end of Glasgow last week.
Soul Food Sisters is a social enterprise cafe and community kitchen run by migrant women that unites people from different backgrounds, countries and cultures to share meals, recipes and stories. Aimed at tackling isolation and helping women to flourish in their new home, the group also empowers volunteers and visitors alike to develop skills inside and out of the kitchen.
I was invited to visit the project by one of the pastry chefs from Cromlix Hotel who lives nearby and has been volunteering in the Soul Food kitchen during lockdown. I was thrilled to share some culinary delights with such a diverse group of women, and I was fascinated to hear the stories of how they all came to live in Scotland – many of which were truly heartbreaking.
Some had fled war or escaped persecution, while others faced oppression, physical violence or extreme hardship. I met women from nine countries who had experienced similar – and incredibly tough – journeys to find a new life.
They started out speaking different languages, but a bond formed through their love of food, as they shared the recipes and dishes they enjoyed in their homeland.
Although every plate I tried was seriously good, I particularly loved the chocolate-topped brioche filled with hazelnut ice cream, which I can best describe as “ice cream in a posh roll”. I would never have thought to order it from a restaurant menu and it was absolutely phenomenal.
This sisterhood of women, who cook, chat and share, has such a strong community spirit, and when I left I felt so inspired and uplifted. And the whole experience reaffirmed my belief that food is one of the best ways to feed the soul and bring people together. Bravo ladies.
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