This is a really hard letter to write, telling you all the news, when there is so much sadness and suffering going on in Ukraine. I have been thinking of the people there. The families just like ours having their lives and homes ripped apart and has made me more grateful than ever for the ones I have around me and the table we have to gather around.
I hope every day that a resolution is found soon.
I have been thinking about the families, displaced and how food and recipes will play a big part in them holding on to their heritage, identity, their memories and their roots and family members they’re separated from. We all turn to food from our childhood when we’re looking for comfort. Yesterday, I had a tin of tomato soup… I was right back there, on the sofa of the house I grew up in, with sliced white bread and butter to dip into it, dunked and ending up all around my cheeks.
I have been binge watching Stanley Tucci’s Searching for Italy. I love it! In his first episode he met two women, one who was Italian and been living on a dreadful estate, full of crime and drugs. Another who was part of a romany gypsy community who had settled nearby. The women came together with a desire to make things better, by cooking for their communities. As the project grew, creating dishes from their past, so did the community begin to flourish and prosper. Now they have a restaurant on the site and people travel for miles to eat there. They can fund nursery places for children on the site, while parents work in the restaurant and the community is going from strength to strength. It feels like from the ashes of disaster, as in the words of the song from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, have grown the roses of success.
And I hope too, as the displaced Ukrainian people, who have had to flee their homes and have to adjust to a new norm, they find strength and belonging and hope in the recipes they put on the tables for the ones they love, wherever they may be for now.
In the meantime, hug the ones you love, remember the ones that aren’t with you, who made us who we are. Find time to escape into the pages of a book! I know I am. I’m reading Katie Fforde’s A Wedding in Provence and it is just a joyous trip to France, a safe and happy place that I need right now.
Last week I had the joy of hosting the Romantic Novelists Association Awards at a lovely lavish event in London. Here I am with my co-host Larry Lamb from ‘Gavin and Stacey’!
I realised it had been over two years since I’d been to a lively, noisy, excited do like that. The evening was a real celebration of books, escapism and hopeful endings! Just what we all need when life around us is anything but. It was a joy to remember and celebrate the books we love to write, for the readers who love to read them.
Stay safe all.
With Love, as always