Below are two examples of the articles -
Iqbal Chowdhury remembers the fishing trips with his grandfather.
Bengalis are renowned for their love of fish—and I was no different. I grew up in a village on my grandfather’s farm in Bangladesh, which included a 100-acre lake that had all types of fish in it. He started taking me on his fishing escapades from an early age, and I quickly familiarised myself with his makeshift rod (a bamboo stick with a hook made from a coat-hanger end).
We often caught a fish known as hilsa—a very bony fish. He would pull the fish in and then scoop them out with his hands; I would have to keep them alive and fresh in a bucket full of water. At the end of the day, as dusk approached, we would take our catch to a straw hut that had a stove built into the mud floor and was lit using kerosene. I would watch my grandma prepare a marinade of turmeric, ginger and chilli powder. She would then fry the fish, before currying it and serving with rice.
Dinner was always an intimate family gathering, even more so because electricity in the area was in sparse supply and we often had to light candles. We would all be engaged in lively conversations during these meals, and it always amazed me how we managed to talk and avoid getting choked on fish bones at the same time! The food always tasted great, but looking back now, it is the lifestyle that went with it that I miss the most. The people in my village all seemed very content – perhaps because the demands of life were not so complicated; their main daily expectation was simply to provide sufficient food for their families. Sometimes I yearn for those simple times—and those simple meals round a candle.
Asiyah Amersi fondly recalls her family feasts in Kenya.
I grew up in Mombasa in a bustling family of twelve. In addition to my immediate family, I lived with my aunt, uncle, cousins, and grandparents. All three meals were a communal event – a pleasant excuse for the family to sit together, catch up, and exchange stories.
I still remember sharing weekly family BBQs with our poorer neighbours in a culinary and cultural union. Every Saturday we’d gather for a mouth-watering meal that combined African delicacies with Indian specialities. The meal was always the same: piping hot African fried sweet bread (mandaazi) with a coconut based pigeon-pea curry (barazi), and skewer grilled marinated meat (mishkaki). The smell of succulent meat would waft into the house through tiny vents, and my cousins and I would conjur up inventive ways of swiping the sizzling meat from under the eyes of our watchful parents. The meat always tasted fresh and natural, and to this day, I have never tasted anything similar.
After we’d let our stomachs rest from the evening’s culinary extravaganza, we’d feast on juicy, homegrown mangoes and delicately prepared deserts. While the women busied themselves in the kitchen and the men relaxed in the evening breeze discussing business and politics, my cousins and I would sneak away into the dark, playing hide and seek; racing in the garden on our bikes.
When I look back on my childhood, I associate meals with family, friendship, and love. Having moved to London, I no longer live in a house bursting with people. Where once I used to live with eleven others, now I live with my sister and a housemate. Even so, the (less frequent) extended family meals remind me of the fantastic family BBQs of my childhood.