As her first solo venture as a British royal, the Duchess of Sussex and former actress Meghan Markle has teamed up with the women of Al-Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre in West London to launch a charity cookbook entitled Together: Our Community Cookbook.
During the past year, the Duchess has been visiting the Muslim heritage center whose members were affected by the 2017 Grenfell Tower fire in London which killed more than 70 people and left many homeless. In the wake of the fire, a group of women began gathering at the mosque to prepare fresh food for the victims and soon an initiative was born named the Hubb Community Kitchen which continues to feed the hungry twice a week.
In January 2018, Markle began making regular private visits to Al-Manaar. “The Duchess came round to have a look at the service we were providing,” says Zaharia Ghaswala, coordinator at the Hubb Community Kitchen. “She just got stuck in straight away. The next minute I realized there was an apron put on her and she was washing rice… She was fascinated with all the flavors, the cultures, and the dishes. She said, ‘We can do a cookbook.’ We didn’t think it would move this quickly!”
The Duchess says that she immediately felt a connection to the community kitchen and its volunteers. “It is a place for women to laugh, grieve, cry and cook together,” she writes. “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 communicate through food, through crisis or joy—something we can all relate to.”