As featured in The Guardian’s Pick of the blogs
As newly-arrived refugees and immigrants navigate the myriad challenges in their new environments, it is often food and its important cultural traditions that are the mainstay in this journey.
Between Meals collects stories and recipes from California’s refugee women to paint a picture of their lives, past and present. The cookbook chronicles the experiences of women leaving their homes in Afghanistan, Burma, Somalia, Sri Lanka and beyond, and the vital role that traditional cooking plays at every stage of the process.
From the malawah flatbread that Somali refugee Halimo cooked each day in the Dadaab refugee camp, to Afghan newcomer Arezo’s celebratory jalebi sweet, every recipe tells a story.
Cookbook author Lauren Markham sees Between Meals as both a preservation project – a recipe “memory box” from the US diaspora communities – as well as a reflection on the creative process by which refugee and immigrant women put down roots in their new homes.
It highlights the challenges that women face when adapting their food to new communities, from locating a goat farm an hour’s drive away, to tracking down galangal root at a Chinatown market.
Between Meals is a project of San Francisco Bay Area non-profit agency, Refugee Transitions, which supports newly-arrived refugees and immigrants into their new communities through education, family engagement and community leadership programs.
Funded by Cal Humanities, the cookbook was developed from Refugee Transition’s home-based tutoring program, where shared meals are often core to the student-tutor relationship.
Executive director Laura Vaudreuil says that, for those who have had to leave all behind, sharing a meal means more than just sharing food: “When all that is left are memories of home, the smells, tastes and experience of a meal recreated can take people back to friends and family.”
Arezo enjoys making her mantu Afghan dumplings for family and new friends. “Mantu is special to me because my mother made it for me the day I found out I was pregnant with my first child.
“I make mantu in California, especially when I miss Kabul and my family in Afghanistan.”
Between Meals is available to order here Profits from the book will be distributed among the cookbook contributors.