Migrant food in New Zealand

The Book

A Global Feast,   Traditional meals in a new homeland

Author(s)

Afife  Skafi Harris and Beryl Lee

Year

2012

What it says on the back cover

More than a recipe book, this colourful collection arose from a unique community project and invites us to explore the dishes and food lore of 26 people from Asia, Africa, the Pacific, South America, Europe and The Middle East.
Each migrant’s story is followed by a selection of their favourite recipes, carefully chosen to make a meal and to reflect the distinctive flavours, textures and traditions of their inherited foodways. All recipes have been adapted for use with locally available ingredients. In presenting their recipes, each ‘new New Zealander’ reflects on their ethnic heritage and identity in relation to the food traditions of their country of birth, including preparation methods, rituals and celebrations. Beautifully presented, the book inspires new ways of thinking about food and encourages an appreciation of the richness of our diverse communities.
Afife Skafi Harris is Lebanese and teaches Lebanese cooking in her home and at a community night class. She often uses these occasions, along with her considerable catering skills, to fundraise for local schools and other organisations. She is a well known stallholder at the Dunedin Farmers’ Market.
Beryl  Lee was born in Dunedin, where she spent most of her working life as a teacher. For many years she has provided support for overseas students and hosted world travellers through an international travel organisation. She is currently president oft the local multi-ethnic council.

What made me pick up the book?

Culture is one of my most favourite subjects I enjoy talking about. Whether this is about a culture that I have visited while travelling abroad or when I am in the company of others (especially those that are from abroad who are in my homeland).

I may enjoy the odd occasional meal out now and then but I really value good honest home food and this book gives us a taste of several different ethnicities that have made my homeland (New Zealand) their home and how they have opened up their homes and their hearts to to share with us some of their own culture and hospitality that is unique to their lives and their homeland that they left behind.

About the book

The recipes in the book  are simple and easy to make  and I enjoyed reading the biography of each participant who helped create the book.  As a person who has lived in the Middle East, I was very interested to see what the people from Jordan, Lebanon, and Somalia had chosen as their meals to share with us. I was particularly taken by the unique flavours used to make a delicious Zelo made by a lady called Zuzana from the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Zelo by the way is a red cabbage dish made with caraway seeds and white vinegar and I was equally impressed with the simplicity of all the meals knowing that most ingredients found in this book were no doubt in my pantry and I am sure in most other home cooks pantries as well. Claudia’s recipe for her Portuguese Salame de Chocolate  is very straight forward and easy enough to teach  a child how to make a chocolate log. Some were a little more complex and one of my favourite dishes even popped up in Alofa’s Samoan meal for Oka, marinated raw fish. Delicious fresh fish fillets marinated in a delicious coconut cream sauce with lemon juice, cucumber, tomatoes and onion. This sort of dish is heavenly to me and screams the South Pacific.

Is this book worth buying?

If you enjoy food, culture, people, life and learning about how the other half of the world eat, this is an ideal book for you. It is jammed packed with yummy food that most cooks at home would thoroughly enjoy and could improvise and adjust to suit their own needs. Home cooking is not the same as restaurant food but it is often  beautifully constructed out of love and sometimes a necessity to living. But these recipes do not scrimp on flavour,  all have wonderful stories behind them and the person who contributed and cooked the dish.

Each dish is created with a lot of thought and consideration and one can almost taste the food as you leaf through each page. A Global Feast is a  book for anyone who wants to try the true flavours of a country. Some may ones that you have tried before or have come across somewhere in your lifetime and others are new, exciting, and vibrant for your  ever increasing taste bud repertoire. Sadly this book does not come with a glossary or a list of where to find some of the ingredients or what they are. This would have been particularly useful for the cook who does not know everything and it would certainly help to understand just a little bit more about what the ingredient is and if there is a substitute. Being a foodie, I am pleased with a reasonable good head for knowledge on food. But one can never assume and this would have complemented the book even more. Here is a great article about the book.

A Global Feast

Four stars

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