Jane Jeffes is a producer and director and former head of ABC Religion & Ethics. A UK-Australian dual national she is based in Sydney, Australia.
Food is about People and Places. Culture and Identity. Memory and inheritance. Who we are. Where we came from. And what we love to share. It can transport us back in time and remind us of people and places we love, and it can transport us to another place and other worlds.
For me, food is a special and intimate way to travel, to explore the world, exchange ideas, talk long into the night and make new acquaintances and lifelong friends. We can dig deeper into our own world, cherish memories from childhood or discover more about the way our older relatives lived – or we can discover something of someone else’s world. And when we cook for others or we try their recipes, we travel with them, make friends, get closer to our own family all without leaving our own kitchen table.
A #stayathome gift in a time of COVID-19!
Recipes for Ramadan – family recipes and family stories from our homes to yours – celebrates the diversity of Australian-Muslim heritage and culture explored through food and, against the background of COVID-19, it is a virtual invitation to break the daily Ramadan fast, to share food and stories and gather around a virtual table. It needs hosts and cooks and it needs guests, interested, engaged and if not exactly taking away a doggy-bag, taking away recipes and a gift of friendship.
Since AMUST announced this project on Friday 17 April many people – Muslim and non-Muslim – have expressed their excitement to break the fast with a different Iftar recipe every day of Ramadan; some to contribute their own recipes and stories; all to try the recipes and explore the flavours, scents and stories of others’ kitchens. My own family wants to try a new recipe each evening and to get acquainted with people and places they haven’t had the privilege to get to know yet. Please contribute. For How To Contribute, keep reading.
After the first Date
The world over, Muslims break their Ramadan fast with a date. But the meal on the table is very different if you come from Pakistan or Palestine, Syria or Somalia, Morocco or Malaysia, Iraq or Indonesia, Egypt or Eritrea, Bosnia or Bangladesh, Lebanon or Libya… Your history is different. The inheritance and baggage you bring with you is different. Your culinary culture is different. You may eat with your fingers, or with bread, or chopsticks, a spoon, or a fork. Your family stories are different. So too your conversations and concerns….
This virtual invitation to Iftar in the form of recipe and story sharing is an invitation into the lives, homes, traditions and beliefs of Muslims from diverse geographic, racial, cultural backgrounds to share food, history and culture; recipes, stories, conversations and concerns which reflect ‘the lands from which we come’. And sometimes, in a 2020 Australian context, how the culture in the kitchen and at the table is changing too.
Over recent years, public awareness of Ramadan has grown. So too, public interest in food and its origins. With more than 50% of Australians born overseas or having one or more parents born overseas and 30% of us first generation Australians born overseas, the culture, stories, traditions and food traditions we bring are all integral to Australia’s rich cultural tapestry and something to be celebrated and shared.
The first recipes were published on Friday 24 April, on the website and social media, by AMUST and potentially, by other interested media.
Please join us in celebrating and sharing your own family history, traditions and food culture.