Shazia started serving hot lunches at the Centre four years ago. She explains how it began and how important it has become...
“One day I suggested cooking a curry and rice dish. Nothing fancy, just good, wholesome, healthy balanced food that refugees, staff and volunteers could all enjoy. Our budget was £20 to feed 80-100 people. I decided I would use my mother’s pots. They were the ones she used to prepare food for family gatherings and I knew they would do the job just fine.
After cooking and serving the food that first time I was hooked. I noticed how it makes people smile and helps everyone come together at lunch time. Through food I have got to know people from all over the world.
No matter what the dish or ingredients there is always something to talk about. It gives people the chance to talk about home. Some of the dishes remind them of places they love and may never be able to return to. I have learnt that food is central to our sense of belonging, no matter where people find themselves in the world. I have made friends for life through eating, cooking and talking."
Poem: Shazia’s Cooking Pot
When I was a child I loved the story about the cooking pot that was never drained
I believed in the idea of ‘enough to go around'.’
But then I grew to learn that for some that pot is full to overflowing
While for others it is
But not here, not today because….
Here comes Shazia carrying a giant pan of steaming hot curry and rice
Made with wholesome ingredients
Stirred with kindness
Served with generosity
We stand around sharing stories and food from this communal pot
This kitchen sings with languages from tongues traversing taste buds of the world,
Despite the hunger
Despite the journey
In Shazia's cooking pot
There is enough to go around.
By Sita Brahmachari