Everyone has a different idea of the perfect weekend but for many of us it involves food: preparing a special weekend feast to share with friends and family; or gathering family and friends in the kitchen to try something new, solving the world’s problems or just chatting and laughing for hours.
Or perhaps it’s time for batch cooking while we’re not on the clock in a Monday to Friday way. Or for eating out and letting someone else cook. Or for putting your feet up and reading – maybe about the joys of food? Or, this weekend, perhaps it’s time to start thinking about last minute gift ideas for Eid.
Recipe books make the best presents – in particular those that are part food and in equal parts people, place and history, feeding hunger for travel, knowledge and learning and informing bucket lists.
My shelves bend under the weight of books like ‘Britain the Cookbook’, ‘Rick Steins’ Seafood Odyssey’, Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s ‘Jerusalem’, Sami Tamimi and Tara Wiggles ‘Falastin’, Hetty McKinnon’s ‘Neighbourhood’ and ‘Together’ , a life-affirming, forward-looking collection compiled by survivors of London’s Grenfell Tower fire who started cooking together, exchanging their histories, their culture and their food, and healing together.
‘Dishoom’ – a recent present – describes itself as a ‘cookery book and highly subjective guide to Bombay with map’ and is laden with beautiful location shots. It has literally whet my appetite to return to India as soon as I can.
Whilst ‘Handmade – stories of strength shared through recipes from the women of Sri Lanka’ has inspired some wonderful foodie evenings with Sri Lankan friends and is the work of an Australian not-for-profit called Palmera which supports farmers and rural entrepreneurs in Sri Lanka to start and grow their own businesses.
First-person narratives of exploration and discovery like Anthony Bourdain’s ‘A Cook’s Tour’ and Arwa Abousamra’s ‘Tea With Arwa’ also take you on a journey to places you haven’t been. And novels such as ‘Maggie’s Kitchen’ set a fictional narrative in the context of historical events.
If you rely on the internet for food inspiration, do spend time exploring our dedicated (and award-winning)
Personal food journeys to inspire website: www.recipesforramadan.com and Instagram @recipesforramadan, Since launching the project in April 2020 as a response to Covid, the collection has grown to 64 recipes and stories from 22 countries with more in the pipeline.
The collection aims to share recipes and stories of Australian Muslim families whose histories and culture reach back to all four corners of the world. Some of the contributors’ names you may know. Some will be new acquaintances.
And these recipes and stories are not just for Ramadan! They’re for dipping into any time, enjoying trying new foods and discovering stories that feed into the story of modern Australia.
Keep your eyes open too for Guardian Australia tomorrow (Saturday 15 April) for the last part in their Recipes for Ramadan series this year, using recipes and stories from our collection.
Tomorrow’s recipe is for Sally Mousa’s Palestinian Qatayef which she does five ways: traditional as her husband likes them or Bounty and Snickers variations which she and her daughter dreamed up. We did a lot earlier this week – with friends to share the cooking and the eating!
If you’ve never tried them, do! And invite friends and family to get involved to batch cook ahead of Eid.