Peace Feast brings nourishment to the local community
5 December 2023
Over the past twelve months, Super Culture and Loves Cafe have brought together people of all ages to discover and share the joy of cooking, bringing their skills as volunteers, both in the kitchen and then at wider Super Culture events, such as our Whirligig festival of outdoor arts and Climate Carnival.
Enabled through funding from Arts & Health South West’s Reach In and Reach Out (RIRO) initiative that supports volunteering for 16-24 year olds, and North Somerset Food Grant’s Solidarity Suppers project, food and cooking have become an important touchpoint for those facing loneliness, social disadvantage and mental health challenges. At the heart of the project are the town’s refugee and asylum seeker community who have met regularly at Loves to share recipes and stories, fostering friendships and helping each other to become entrenched in the wider community of Weston. Sessions have included walks and picnics in beauty spots of North Somerset plus trips to some great shows at Weston’s Front Room Theatre.They have formed the collective ‘Global Kitchen’, meeting regularly to share food and friendship, and supporting a range of community events with a fantastic food offer.
Last week, this all dovetailed perfectly in food-tastic fashion at ‘Peace Feast’, held at Refugees Welcome North Somerset (RWNS). Communities living in the local area with roots all over the world were invited to share an evening of food, cooked by the volunteers, to listen to music by Moroccan master of Gnawa music, Mohamed Errebbaa, and to chat!
Armed with inks and paints, Niki Groom documented the festival in her unique way, capturing in illustration guests enjoying the event and our friends preparing a delicious meal for around 80 people.
Farshid, from Iran, treated us to his distinctive plant-based adaptation of Ghormeh Sabzi, a mouth-watering blend of spinach, fresh mixed herbs, Persian limes and kidney beans. This middle-Eastern dish has become a firm favourite amongst locals at Loves and at Sprout’s (Arts Council England supported) Garden Grooves gig series and it was heartily appreciated by those at RWNS.
Daneesh gifted us his Baluchistani culinary knowledge in the form of Dhal, mixing red lentils with spices, tomatoes and more garlic and ginger than you can imagine, “What a beautiful bowl of delight” commented Loves’ Anna on the chopped, pre-cooked blend! The finished product definitely had that yum factor!
Bangladesh-born Mizan, had me scratching my head at his method of cooking curried vegetables; a huge pan of several roots, allium and brassicas coated in a little oil and an array of warming spices. No water. Just shake the pan every so often and make sure the vitamin packed ingredients don’t stick to the bottom. I will be trying this at home and so might you if you got to taste this!
Served with Persian bread, a zesty salad and rice, we all got stuck in, Mohamed’s music gently wafting around the conversations.
Food devoured, some of the children jumped up to clap along to the sounds, clearly loving those Moroccan vibes, their joy infecting the room. A highlight of the evening is when a young boy from Syria got up to sing a rap in Arabic! Young girls then took over on the ‘decks’ and played their personally chosen tracks to the audience.
Thanks to everyone who came along and made this such a cheerful evening and to funders Arts + Health South West and North Somerset Council, plus partners Loves and RWNS for coming together to help celebrate our diverse community.
- All illustrations are by Niki Groom (@miss_magpie_spy), with thanks. https://www.missmagpiefashionspy.com/
Make your own tastebud-tingling dhal, your way:
Ingredients (feeds 4):
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 onions, chopped
3 (or more if that’s how you like it) cloves garlic, finely diced
1 cm (or more) ginger, finely diced
1 (or more) fresh chilli, finely chopped
250g red lentils
Tin of chopped tomatoes
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 teaspoon each of coriander, cumin, salt and paprika (but, honestly, use whichever spices you most enjoy!)
2 teaspoons garam masala
Black pepper to suit
Coriander to garnish (optional)
- Heat the oil and add chopped onions, cook on low heat until yellowy brown (but not burnt!) – this will bring out the sweetness
- Add the garlic, chilli and ginger and cook for 1 minute
- Add the dried spices, except the garam masala, for another minute
- Add the lentils and put enough water in to cover them. Bring to boil and then simmer for 25 minutes. The lentils should be soft and starting to break down for a more soupy texture. If not, leave for a little longer
- Add the tomatoes, stir and cover for 20 minutes
- Add garam masala and salt/pepper and cook for another 10 minutes
- Taste and add more chilli, salt or garam masala to suit
- Garnish with chopped fresh coriander (optional)
All of this can be adapted. You might want to pop some spinach in your dhal at the end, or meat it up with some mushrooms?
Serve with rice or a nan or even a jacket spud and maybe a salad of chopped onion/tomato with a little salt/chilli/lime juice/oil