Meghan Markle has cooked up something special.
Kensington Palace announced today that the Duchess of Cambridge has written the foreword for a new cookbook, featuring recipes from the Hubb Community Kitchen in West London. The 37-year-old royal first visited the kitchen in January and has continued to make private visits.
"Together is a cookbook. But, it's also the story of a West London community who gathered together in a kitchen and discovered the healing power of sharing food. In January 2018, as I was settling into my new home of London, I met a group of women whose community had been affected by the Grenfell Fire. They had decided to get together to cook fresh food for their families and their neighbors. And so, for two days ever week, these women were able to cook and share their delicious recipes together. I immediately felt connected to this community kitchen. Like these women, I'm passionate about food and cooking as a way of strengthening communities," Markle says in a promotional video. "So, I am proud to be supporting this cookbook, Together, which features delicious recipes from the women of the Hubb Community Kitchen. The proceeds will allow the kitchen to stay open and to thrive so it can continue transforming lives and communities through cooking. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do."
Proceeds from sales of the cookbook will allow the kitchen to remain open seven days a week. Supported by The Royal Foundation and published by Penguin Random House companies, Together: Our Community Cookbook showcases over 50 personal recipes from across the Eastern Mediterranean, Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. To celebrate its launch, the duchess will host a celebratory event—with Prince Harry by her side—Sept. 20 at Kensington Palace.
Markle elaborates on her connection to the community kitchen in her foreword.
"In 2017, I had watched the Grenfell Tower tragedy unfold on the news; I was in Canada at the time, sharing the global sentiment of shock and sympathy for what this community was enduring, while also deeply wanting to help," the former Suits star writes. "Fast-forward seven months, and I was set to meet some of the women affected by the fire, at a community kitchen in Al-Manaar. The kitchen was opened after the Grenfell tragedy, offering women who had been displaced and the community around them a space to cook food for their families. Their roles as matriarchs united them across their cultures; the kitchen provided an opportunity to cook what they knew and to taste the memory of home, albeit homes some had recently lost."
Describing the atmosphere as "cozy and brightly lit," Markle writes, "The kitchen buzzes with women of all ages; women who have lived and seen life; laughing, chatting, sharing a cup of tea and a story, while children play on the floor or are rocked to sleep in their strollers." She advises arriving on an empty stomach, because afterward, "You will have been stuffed to the gills with samosas flecked with cinnamon, chapatis flavored with carrots and onion, Russian Semolina cake, Persian teas and my very favorite avocado dip that I now make at home." Most of all, "You will feel joyful in their company, and you will leave counting the days until you go back."
Markle, who made food a focus of her now defunct blog The Tig, is all about "the story of food—where it comes from, why we embrace it and how it brings us together: the universal connection to community through the breaking of bread. Within this kitchen's walls, there exists not only the communal bond of togetherness through sharing food, but also a cultural diversity that creates what I would describe as a passport on a plate: the power of a meal to take you to places you've never been or transport you right back to where you came from."
One of Markle's favorite childhood meals included black-eyed peas, collard greens and corn bread. She expecially loved "the smell of yellow onions simmering amongst a slow-cooked pot of greens from my grandma's back garden; the earthy texture of peas; and a golden loaf of cornbread puff-puffing away to a browned peak in the warmth of the oven. This was eaten on New Year's Day, a tradition steeped in ancestral history where each component has a meaning: the black-eye peas for prosperity, the greens for wealth, the cornbread for health and nourishment. It wasn't a new year's resolution; it was a wish. It wasn't simply a meal; it was a story." Later, as a student at Northwestern University, Markle longed for her mother's gumbo. While filming Suits in Toronto, she writes, "I embraced poutine and several other Canadian culinary favorites." But ultimately, she says, "The Southern California girl in me always craved fish tacos, and the memory of eating hometown fare infused with a strong Mexican influence."
With the publication of Together, the duchess concludes, "Our hope is that within these pages you will find new recipes and family favorites that you can enjoy in your own homes, because these recipes aren't simply meals; they are stories of family, love, of survival and connection."