After the heartbreaking Grenfell Tower fire in London in 2017, something powerful and inspirational happened: A community of local women assembled and opened a kitchen to cook fresh, heartwarming food for those affected by the tragedy. That camaraderie of cooking and kindness became the Hubb Community Kitchen (“hubb” means ‘love’ in Arabic). And that’s exactly where HRH The Duchess of Sussex comes in.
Together: Our Community Cookbook is written by the women of the Hubb Community Kitchen, with a very thoughtful and heartfelt foreword by Meghan Markle. “In January 2018, as I was settling in to my new home in London, it was important to me to get to know organizations working in the local community,” she writes in the cookbook foreword. That community outreach is what brought Markle to the Hubb kitchen in Al-Manaar, a place she promptly felt embraced by. “I immediately felt connected to this community kitchen; it is a place for women to laugh, grieve, cry and cook together,” writes Markle.
As she was settling into a new country, the women of the community kitchen—diverse in their backgrounds from the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, and Eastern Mediterranean—made her feel instantly at home. And this cookbook is a dream in the making, as Markle once wrote, on her now defunct lifestyle blog The Tig, that she would love to publish a collection of recipes.
The focus of Together, for both Markle and The Royal Foundation (the primary philanthropic vehicle for The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and The Duke and Duchess of Sussex), is an altruistic one. The first time Markle visited, she realized the kitchen was only open Tuesdays and Thursdays, due to “funding,” she writes. Already, due to charitable endeavors, the kitchen is now open seven days a week to feed those in need. But, the hope of Together is to focus a portion of the proceeds from the sales of this book to keep the Hubb Kitchen open every day endlessly, and to also widen its reach to others in the community as well. It is, after all, as Markle writes, more than a cookbook. “This is a tale of friendship, a story of togetherness. It is a homage to the power of cooking as a community, and the recipes that allow us to connect, share and look forward.”
“This is a tale of friendship, a story of togetherness.”
The recipes in Together come not from Markle, but from the women of the Kitchen, with each dish telling the story and history of the recipe. Fear not though, they’re also entirely approachable, even for the novice cook, with most just requiring a few ingredients, and they are easy enough to replicate wherever in the world your kitchen is.
The recipes are broken up into sections such as; breakfast, snacks and dips, lunch and dinner, salads, and desserts and drinks. But what really sets this cookbook apart from the others (besides Markle, of course) is the sincere kindness and history behind every single recipe. Each dish comes with the name of the maker, but also her personal history with the dish. Like Jennifer Fatima Odonkor’s Moroccan Chickpea & Noodle Soup, which she’s made since she was a child. She even notes you should “Make sure that all your stirring is done with love and prayer.” (And if that isn’t the sweetest thing alive, we’re not sure what is.)
A few of our other favorite dishes include Moroccan Pancakes with Honey and Almond Butter (literally the first thing we’re going to cook!), Green Chile and Avocado Dip, Coconut Curry Chicken, Russian Semolina Cake, and Spiced Mint Tea.
The most surprising revelation we learned in Markle’s foreword though? Her love for Southern food and traditions. She writes, “One of my own favorite meals is collard greens, black-eyed peas and cornbread…” and she references the ancestral tradition behind each component when consumed on New Year’s Day (“black-eyed peas for prosperity, the greens for wealth, the cornbread for health and nourishment,” she writes). She also mentions that she would return home to LA with “bated breath” to have a bowl of her mother’s gumbo (we need that recipe, Doria!).
A book that not only looks mouthwatering, but gives back to a beautiful community in need? We call that a very worthy first endeavor, HRH.
Together: Our Community Cookbook goes on sale on September 25.
Keep on cooking: