LONDON: Meghan Markle, Britain’s Duchess of Sussex, has lent her backing to a new charity cookbook to help funds for a community cooking project set up in the wake of London’s Grenfell Tower fire disaster in which killed 71 people.
The Hubb Community Project was created last summer by women seeking somewhere to cook fresh food for their families and friends following the blaze which engulfed the 24-storey social housing block in west London.
The new book, “Together: Our Community Cookbook”, a collection of 50 recipes from the diverse users of the communal kitchen at the Al Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre, will be used to allow the project to expand and open for up to seven days a week.
“I immediately felt connected to this community kitchen; it is a place for women to laugh, grieve, cry and cook together,” Meghan, who first visited the kitchen in January and has made other private visits since, wrote in a foreword.
“Melding cultural identities under a shared roof, it creates a space to feel a sense of normalcy – in its simplest form, the universal need to connect, nurture, and commune through food, through crisis or joy – something we can all relate to.”
Meghan’s support for the project is her first solo venture since becoming a member of Britain’s royal family after marrying Queen Elizabeth’s grandson Prince Harry in May.
The Grenfell fire was Britain’s deadliest fire on domestic premises since World War Two and there was criticism that the authorities were slow to provide new permanent accommodation for many of the survivors.
One of the contributors to the book, Munira Mahmud, 34, said she and her friends had approached Al-Manaar to ask if they could use the kitchen there and the Hubb project – hubb means love in Arabic – arose out of it.
“Last summer, we were placed in a hotel and I had no kitchen to cook for my family,” Mahmud wrote. “It was very emotional for me to get in the kitchen. The moment I started cooking I was in tears. I didn’t know why though. I was just excited to be back in the kitchen again.
“Word started to spread – the mums from my son’s school came along and they told their friends, too. Soon there were women from different cultures all cooking, swapping recipes, talking and laughing together.”
The duchess is photographed on the front of the of the book helping out and Mahmud said the royal had been happy to join in.
“She wore an apron,” she wrote. “I can’t believe I made her wash rice! After we said that we could only use the kitchen twice a week due to funding, she mentioned, ‘How about sharing your recipes with other people?’. And that’s how it happened.”
Meghan will host an event at Kensington Palace, where her home with Harry is located, on Sept. 20 to launch the cookbook with the Royal Foundation administering proceeds from sales to the Hubb project.