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The Whole World in Your Kitchen

The rain was pouring down, no surprises there, as I made chutney on Saturday from our garden’s produce – courgettes that had swollen into marrows, windfall apples of various types and shapes, a few carrots and onions, plus some sultanas and a bit of ginger and cinnamon. I quite like making chutney… not too much to go wrong. I have to confess that I don’t use a recipe – just sling it all in with some malt vinegar and sugar. Perhaps not a good confession from a cookbook writer, but I guess we all do it!

While stirring the aromatic mix, I thought about the new cookbook that I’m embarking on – The Whole World in Your Kitchen. This is an exciting new NI book planned for 2010 publication, which means it has to be ready in 2009. It’s intended to be bigger than the other six I’ve done, a kind of summation of the NI’s take on world vegetarian cooking. The most popular of the NI food books has been The World in Your Kitchen, the first vegetarian one that was published in 1993 and is still, in its revised and updated form, regularly reprinted. I recall the excitement then of succeeding in getting Glenda Jackson to write a Foreword, and Julie Christie to contribute some recipes.

As always, it is NI readers who really make these books what they are. A call for recipes in the magazine (and nowadays on the website too, see below) brings in not just interesting dishes, but often a few lines about where the person ate them. Lots of our readers have lived and worked overseas, and some of the tales they send are fascinating. Along with her recipe for Nasi goreng from Indonesia, Liz Cullen wrote:

‘As a first-time delegate at a meeting on sustainable development in Bali, I was feeling disheartened. It seemed that every agreement reached was being diluted rapidly by the addition of statements such as ‘where appropriate’ or ‘where feasible’ thus mitigating any feeling that the ‘major players’ were serious about addressing issues of inequality and justice.

It was therefore refreshing to walk on the beach at Nusa Dua and eat Nasi goreng, cooked at a little mobile stall under the trees at the beach – an honest dish and enjoyed all the more in the company of very hospitable people, many of whom seemed to be so poor but were rich in hospitality and friendliness. I was sustained both by the food and their companionship.’

Recipes have also been sent by many of the NI’s contacts, friends and contributors from the Majority World, often telling us more about the food. Phoebe Omondi from Kenya explained how the dish Nyoyo, a hearty maize-and-beans combo: ‘is mainly eaten either for lunch or supper, but the Luo and Luhya people also serve it as a snack in the village while doing heavy work such as building a house, or farming, when other community members come out to help.’
So if you’d like to send in some recipes, please do – either email them to me or post them directly from our website at: www.newint.org/recipes/

Today, what we eat remains a key issue as climate change bites and communities are hit by drought or floods; big business keeps its hold on commodities; food prices hit the skies; and obesity and malnutrition sit uncomfortably together. As Wayne Roberts, the author of the newly published No-Nonsense Guide to World Food, puts it:

‘Somethin’s gotta give. The industrial food system of the 1950s is well past its peak and cannot deliver affordable food in an era of expensive fossil fuels and degraded land, water and climate. When we understand this, we can see why system alternatives such as organics, agro-ecology and conservation will replace industrial food.’

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