There’s often something special that happens when people, even strangers, come together to eat. The very act of bringing a dish or cooking something stirs up stories between people. Food can be an icebreaker. Sharing a recipe is a personal thing to do, as is inviting others into your home for the first time. Cooking in a community kitchen where everyone uses but no one owns, is a different kind of space to meet in, and an equaliser.
Sharing ideas for recipes and cooking for one another came about in Timor Leste as something Mana Berta and I could do together when I was living with her and wanting to get to know her and understand a little of the culture. Cooking was something we brought our different backgrounds to but we still possessed plenty in common: family recipes; a favourite food; foods that were typical to eat during pregnancy; and the recipes of celebrations. Cooking Circles came from something that was, and continues to, happen anyway. Strangers, cooking and eating together, chatting and sometimes debating, yearning to understand, and connect, with one more person.