The Magic of Cooking Together
Joy, Healing, Memories & Wanderlust
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The Magic of Cooking Together
With sweet onions and warm peppers sizzling away, toasting spices with wafting aromas engulfing the air, we chop and slice, pound and crush, stirring slowly and sharing stories together.
Creating lasting memories
I received a heart-felt message from Vicky, a lovely lady who attended our cookery class in Brighton. She wrote to congratulate me on the publication of Africana and to share fond memories of cooking with her mother Carol, who basked in the joy of cooking African recipes for the first time. Attached to Vicky’s message was a framed picture of Carol, full of cheer, smiling from ear to ear as she stirred the pot of groundnut stew. A reminder of their special day, she says. An activity that showed her a sometimes forgotten openness, curiosity, and skill that her mother possessed. I remembered them both instantly. I always ask my cooks if It's alright to take photos during our classes. “Do I need to call your agents?” A question that makes them all chuckle. I do this diligently, to preserve the memories, memories that I hope will be preserved in our hearts. Memories that help me, encourage me to keep going. There is something special about a picture, capturing moments of happiness, laughter, candid moments shared together at our feasts. And thank God, I have pictures of Vicky and Carol, of us all, basking in the joy of cooking together. Vicky even helped with toasting the peanuts for the stew, and Carol and I posed for photos too. Scrolling through them brought me to tears, with feelings of gratitude, and with feelings of sorrow, knowing that Carol has since passed away. I am grateful to Carol and to Vicky for the blessing of this memory, we shared together. Grateful to you all here, all who have joined our classes and our thriving community.
The healing powers of cooking together
During the pandemic years, while feeling lonely and despondent, unable to run my cookery classes, I realised just how important it was to me and to others. I created an online food club. We started with just one person, dearest Annie ~ one of our club members here on Cook with Lerato, who lives in France. Annie and I would meet once a week, phone in hand, walking around our respective houses, her cat George and my dog Tuppence, often within view, as we cooked together. We grew, welcoming people from across the world, typically converging on our Facebook group to share pictures of what we cooked. It was exciting, something to look forward to. I shared some of my cookbook development process and recipes with the group. It was healing, comforting, fun and inspiring, sharing so much together, from recipes to travel tales and kitchen renovation ideas. Many attended our food club without cooking at all. We enjoyed the conversation, the company, the wanderlust of it all as we converged from many parts of the world while sharing food too.
These are some of the many reasons I teach, and why I wrote a cookbook. I want to heal, to create joy, to inspire relationships and lasting memories through food. I know that many of us want to connect with ourselves, with our family, or friends, colleagues and with new people. And I am yet to find a greater medium that brings us together, joyfully, than glorious food. I am so thankful for the blessing of being able to cook with many of you in my home, online, at our cookery classes and now on our retreats, overlooking the rolling hills and the palm tree lined coast.
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Cooking together is a magical experience. Amidst the smoke and sizzle, our walls break down, and we become more open, open with ourselves and to one another. When we come together, we are reminded that we are one, we are equal. Surrendering to the will of our ingredients, to the power of water and heat and trusting one another as we work towards a common goal, to feed and be fed, joyously and abundantly. An act I thoroughly enjoy and encourage, as time and time again I witness the immense joy it brings to many. Come and share in our joy, from strangers who become friends while toasting spices for our berbere or ras el hanout blends, to couples sharing an exciting experience preparing caramelised onions for Senegalese Yassa. To parents and their kids (even 40+ year old kids too) creating lasting memories while taking turns to check the smoking pot of Jollof, releasing its bewitching sweet and spicy aroma, leaving us all wonder struck and eager to tuck in. This is the magic of cooking together.
Have you ever cooked with another person, at home with family or friends, perhaps with a group of colleagues as a team bonding exercise, with strangers at a cookery class or in the home of welcoming locals in a foreign country? Have you ever cooked with me? Do share, I’d love to know more.
Cooking together on our first retreat in Ghana
Fancy cooking with us?
NEW DATES: Africana Cookery Retreats
Ghana ~ 1st - 7th 2024
Join our cookery retreats. Next stop is Ghana! A journey that will inspire and enrich in this beautiful and heartwarming country in West Africa. Find out more about this unique experience with food, culture, people and the environment at our core. Write to me if you will like to join us or to book a one-on-one virtual chat.
NEW DATES: Africana Virtual Masterclass
Sundays from September, 7pm - 8.30pm
Excited to announce our new cookery classes starting in September. Join us on Sundays for a fabulous feast. If you are a paid club member, check your inbox for a direct booking link or code to redeem your free class. Subscribers can book now.
My Award Winning debut cookbook, thanks to you!
AFRICANA ~ Treasured recipes & stories from across the continent by HQ, HarperCollins (UK) & Amistad (USA)
AFRICANA - The modern classic book on African Cookery.
This is inspiring writing that works! - Jamie Oliver
Telegraph's Best Books of Autumn 2022 - The Telegraph
"There isn't a recipe I don't want to cook." - Diana Henry
"An outstanding new book. Lerato is a genius with flavour" - Delicious Magazine
Thank you for your reviews!
Many of you have cooked the book and shared your creations online. Many of you have also left heartwarming 5 star reviews. Thank you for spending a few minutes. Your kind words are important and appreciated. They contribute substantially to the success of Africana and ensure more people enjoy the wonders of the African continent. I would be grateful if you shared your experience of reading and cooking the book by leaving a five-star review. You can also leave a review on your local stores.
❤️ Are we friends on socials? Say hello and tag me when you cook my recipes
✍🏽 Or write to me: www.leratofoods.com
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COOK WITH LERATO is a reader-supported publication. For full access to recipes and to support my work, consider upgrading to become a member for £5 a month or £50 a year. It would mean a lot to me and the small village it takes to bring you this piece of sunshine. Thank you for reading!