'Nothing more beautifully conveys our independence than the food we eat. Access to wholesome food is critical to whether we merely survive... or thrive. Food builds our physical resilience, brings us joy, and strengthens our bonds with friends and family. It maintains our connection to the seasons, and generates employment, wealth and economic stability. What we choose to eat and how we choose to prepare it reflect our ancestral traditions and cultural heritage, as well as our abundant creativity. Food unites us globally.'
As I sit in a sunny corner quietly reading this book, I am well aware that in other parts of the world there are women whose lives have been devastated by war and conflict, rape and violence, and extreme poverty. Despite the difficulties that so many women endure, their overriding courage, strength and hope sustains them and they are inspiration to us all.
Women for Women International (WfWI) works with women in regions such as Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Kosovo, Nigeria, Rwanda and South Sudan, where lives and communities have been devastated. The core belief of the charity is that stronger women build stronger nations and that with adequate access to information and resources, socially excluded women can lead change toward stable societies. The programmes run by WfWI enable women to shift from being victims, to survivors and active citizens. Since its founding in 1993 by Zainab Salbi, WfWI has helped more than 400,000 women, providing training, health education, business and vocational skills and assistance accessing funding. For every individual women helped, up to five others benefit (an estimated 2.16 million family members!). The support provided by WfWI has been made possible through the generosity of a shared community of sponsors from around the world; people such as Bill and Hillary Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Meryl Streep, Annie Lennox, Judi Dench, Richard Gere, Jennifer and Warren Buffet, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie; as well as single individuals who have contributed in some way towards the global community.
Discussing the experiences they had shared as 'sisters' to women they had sponsored through the WfWI programme, three friends (Lauri Pastrone, Tracy Craighead and Bette Anne Berg) realised 'the strong affinity around life's most basic themes: love of family, the desire to be productive and self sufficient, hope for the next generation, and the understanding that something special... beyond words... was shared when people gathered in gratitude around a kitchen table. [And] regardless of ingredients or setting, a home-cooked meal shared a sort of abundance that felt... like real nourishment.' And hence Share - the cookbook that celebrates our common humanity was born.
This remarkable book includes recipes from world class chefs, cookery writers and leading humanitarians, as well as lesser known heroes, including women who have been assisted by the WfWI programme. Contributors include Stephanie Alexander (Mary's rabbit pie), Maggie Beer (chicken with vino cotto), Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (sticky glazed ribs), Nelson Mandela (stuffed chilli crab), Yotam Ottolenghi (lentils with tomatoes and gorgonzola), Jamie Oliver (apple berry pie), Archbishop Desmond Tutu (exotic fruit salad) and Paul McCartney (super vegetable salad); among many others. There are recipes for wellbeing, nurturing, sharing and celebrating.
There are also extraordinary life stories from women in Afghanistan, South Sudan, Bosnia and Herzogovina, Iraq and the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Nigeria and Kosovo.
Like the Share team, you and I can help women survivors of war by sponsoring a woman to participate in the WfWI programme. To become a sponsor or find out more, visit the WfWI web site. You can also help by purchasing a copy of the book, noting that 100% of the publisher's profits go to Women for Women International.
Share: the cookbook that celebrates our common humanity, Women for Women International, Edited by Alison Oakervee, $39.99, Kyle Books.
Cookbook reviews and interviews with food writers and chefs.