WORD Christchurch 2020: More than a spoonful of social enterprise

What started of as a high school youth enterprise project has now become not only a book but also a tasty WORD Festival session, hosted by Annabel Langbein. Rather than create a business, Tulsi Lathia and others from Rangi Ruru School wanted to create a social enterprise project that uses food of the world to bridge the cultural gap between those who've been in New Zealand a while and those who've more recently arrived. The result is, Spoonful of Spice, a collection of recipes and stories from around the globe which were collected by hosting pot-luck dinners - is there a better way to choose recipes than by eating them?

Against this backdrop, Annabel chaired a nourishing conversation with Tulsi from India, Bella from Brazil and Zahra from Afghanistan / Iran about the importance of cuisine to culture, the deliciousness of eggplants, and the connections between food cultures - for example Adelaide has a similar climate to Iran so you can grow plants like pomegranate and eggplant.

Annabel began by asking what everyone missed about the food of their places of origin. For Tulsi and Zahra it was the smells and colours of the bazaar, and for Zahra and Bella it was the variety of fresh (tropical) fruits and vegetables. Apparently in Brazil avocados are huge and Bella first thought NZ avocados that were babies. There's also a different style to cooking in less westernised places - more specialised shops, more fresh ingredients, less waste. But similarities too, meat is also very expensive in Iran - hence the popularity of eggplant.

The recipes the participants spoke about are detailed in the book, but to tempt you there was a lovely sounding fried eggplant in a tomato sauce dish from Iran - which is similar to an Indian dish - and a Brazilian chicken in pastry snack called coxinha, which is tricky to cook but sounds amazing. There were definitely times when I wished this was a taste-a-long session!

Discussion of saffron and how prized it is in many parts of the world - 'red gold' - led Annabel to muse on the stories of ingredients, and how trade along such routes as the legendary spice routes has allowed food and culture to evolve and develop. And on a spring lunchtime, in the midst of strange times, we were able to share stories from different parts of the world here in New Zealand (which has it's own indigenous cuisine) and connect over tantalized tastebuds.

All proceeds of A Spoonful of Spice will go to the Christchurch Refugee Resettlement Services.


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