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For the love of food: on Kalpna Woolf’s latest recipe book

On 28 February, Kalpna Woolf – an acclaimed food writer and charity founder – will publish her latest recipe book, Eat, Share, Love. Brimming with Bristolian stories, Kalpna tells us all about the myriad of food cuisines that make this city thrum with life and love.

An award-winning food writer, entrepreneur, charity campaigner, and former head of production at the BBC, Kalpna Woolf is a well-known and highly respected figure on the food scene. During her 23 years at the corporation, she oversaw a number of popular television programmes starring internationally renowned chefs including Nigella Lawson, Nigel Slater, Rick Stein and the Hairy Bikers. In 2016, she brought her own passion and expertise in spices and health into her first cookbook – Spice Yourself Slim – which became a kitchen mainstay in its own right.

Over the years, Kalpna’s extraordinary appetite for hard work has been recognised by a clutch of national awards. Her mantelpiece supports The Guild of Food Writers Inspiration Award, BBC’s Food and Farming Food Hero Award and the Asian Women of Achievement Award – all of which earned her a rightful place on Waitrose Food Magazine’s list of 20 people Making the World a Better Place to Live and Eat in 2020.

Throughout her long and illustrious career, Kalpna’s genuine love for food has always shone through, but what’s more is her dedication to bringing diverse communities together, using the power of food to break down barriers. In 2015, she founded her Bristol-based charity 91 Ways, which draws on the 91 different languages spoken in the city and brings people closer together through a shared passion for food.

Kalpna’s latest book, Eat, Share, Love, calls on a number of brilliant Bristol ambassadors – famous figures as well as much-loved locals – to share their mouth-watering recipes from a myriad of food cuisines. Think berbere-spiced Eritrean stews, fragrant Iranian saffron rice, fresh Sudanese salads and Somali lamb huuris. These recipes alone would prize you from the quotidian and plunge you into the extraordinary, but this book goes one step further. With every dish comes an absorbing anecdote of rekindled memories – many of which reveal touching tales of love and loss, family and friendship, happiness and kindness. From romance blossoming over a tantalising Persian ghormeh sabzi to families gathering to make Moldovan cheese dumplings – this book is joyous, this book is warming, this book is Bristol. As perfectly summed up by Kalpna, this book “reminds us just how much our favourite foods actually mean to us, and that by the simple act of sharing our food and stories we can make unexpected connections with each other, which can bridge our cultural, religious and ethnic divides and bring us all closer together.”

We all have a story to tell – we absolutely do. The vivacity of this book is all about the joy of sharing them

Alongside Kalpna, who contributes several of her own family recipes and stories, Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of the County and City of Bristol, Peaches Golding OBE, shares her Thanksgiving Savoury Sweet Potato Bake; Michelin-star chef Josh Eggleton reveals his Nan’s Apple Pie (and Jam Turnover); and Bristol lawyer and nightclub owner, Marti Burgess, remembers the story behind her Portland Jerk Marinade. Each and every page is wonderfully illustrated with family photographs and Eat, Share, Love ultimately immortalises these beautiful Bristol lives in literature.

Above: Marti Burgess

“The book is an opportunity for people who don’t normally get to voice who they are. I went back to who we are at 91 Ways and I realised that there doesn’t seem to be a space, particularly in the food world, to hear people’s stories – it is somehow always taken over by the same voices. We all have a story to tell – we absolutely do. The vivacity of this book is all about the joy of sharing them,” says Kalpna. “I don’t think there’s a book out there like Eat, Share, Love. The heart of Bristol is beating in this book and we can all connect to it. You can enjoy it, you can use it as a cookbook or you can sit and read the stories. I can guarantee you one thing – once you’ve read the stories and cooked the recipes, people’s memories will move with you – a chain of joy and love and understanding will be passed on through you, and that’s really what I want.”

Eat, Share, Love by Kalpna Woolf will be published on 28 February. Purchase the book at: 91ways.org or mezepublishing.co.uk; £22


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