As a member of a number of culinary organizations, I’m always excited to see the wonderful array of cookbooks that fellow culinarians publish each year. Getting a coveted review in the New York Times or making the holiday short lists in the national press can elevate some lucky authors to magnificent sales and notoriety, but there are so many books that don’t make the cut for whatever reason or aren’t glamorous yet are valuable gems.
One such book that has caught my attention is Share: The Cookbook that Celebrates our Common Humanity. With a foreword by Meryl Streep, Share has created some buzz, and there are contributions from well-known people, but it’s not a sexy book with a glitzy cover and over-the-top recipes that will sit on coffee tables and look glamorous, whether or not it’s actually used. Instead, Share highlights how food is our common denominator, a way to nourish us physically, mentally and spiritually. And it speaks of how food can provide employment, economic stability and environmental sustainability in the developing world. Additionally, all of the profits from book sales go to Women for Women International, a non-profit that provides opportunities for women who have survived rape, torture and war.
There are success stories and recipes from women in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo, South Sudan, Rwanda and The Democratic Republic of Congo and a segment on the produce grown through the WfWI’s farming initiatives. And there are recipes from so many people who support humanitarian causes, such as Dame Judi Dench, Mia Farrow, Alice Walker, Nelson Mandela, Aung San Suu, Christine Amanpour, Alice Waters, Emma Thompson, Jamie Oliver, Ben and Jerry, Annie Lennox, and longtime friend, Jesse Ziff Cool, a restaurateur and pioneering leader in California cuisine and the sustainable agricultural movement.
Recipes run the gamut from Afghani flatbreads stuffed with falafels, sticky donuts from Kosovo, and lamb burgers with mint and much more.
I enjoyed spending an evening reading Share from cover to cover. This is a book to purchase for yourself or as a gift, knowing that your purchase supports women as they rebuild their lives and make a difference in the communities where they live. It is also a powerful reminder of just how important women are in the process of strengthening and supporting their communities in the developing world.
If you love the idea of honoring women but don’t need another cookbook, consider visiting Women for Women International and purchasing one of the gifts that support the women’s projects WWI maintain. What better gift than one that makes a significant difference!