On Saturday afternoon, I had the honor of touring the Edible Schoolyard and having lunch in the new Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School Dining Commons. Alice Waters, the Chez Panisse Foundation and a team of others are working towards changing the way we see the school lunch program in America.
The program was inspiring, delicious and beautiful and I am committed to bringing this philosophy into the life of my own daughter.
I believe that the act of preparing, eating and sharing food should be at the center of our lives – not only feeding our bodies but our emotional and spiritual needs as well. One of my favorite things about cooking is sharing this experience with good friends and family. As it gets cooler, a simple and elegant home cooked meal is the perfect excuse to gather together to enjoy the bounty of the Fall harvest. The markets right now are a fantastic source of inspiration with all of the amazing fruits and vegetables available. A great dinner party does not have to be complicated – good, simple ingredients and clear organization are all you need to create a wonderful meal to share with loved ones. I want to show you how dinner parties can be fun for everyone – not just your guests!
I find myself thinking and speaking more and more about business models and today I have seen two outstanding examples.
This morning, we had the opportunity to visit CIDA. This visit was an inspiring look at how one person can become a community and a community, in turn, a nation.
By empowering students, the foundation is providing a method for lifting individuals out of poverty while investing them with the tools to provide for their own communities. This short video says it all:
Our afternoon was filled with the overflowing love of the African Children’s Feeding Scheme. This organization feeds over 21,000 children each day over multiple locations while providing crucial education in health, farming and economic development for parents and caregivers (along with small farming plots.)
One lunch provides each child with 80% of his or her daily requirement for vitamins and protein. When we asked the sister her greatest need, her immediate response was to “feed more children.”
As a reminder, this curtain hanging in a kitchen window reads “No More Hunger.”
After a beautiful lunch, accompanied by Soweto song and dance, we had the opportunity to visit the Shwe Shwe Poppis cooperative.
Shwe-Shwe Poppis are hand-made in Soweto as a fund raising and economic empowerment arm of the Feeding Scheme. Each of the dolls is one child’s drawing come to life. What a beautiful circular chain: child to drawing, drawing to doll, doll to empowerment, empowerment to caregiver, caregiver to child – in complete and unbroken cycle.The paper insert that comes with one small doll reads:“Hello, my name is KHUTHAThis Shwe Shwe is based on my drawing. I live in Soweto, South Africa and buddy is my best game. Chicken is my best lunch. My favorite color is green and I also love lions.”
From New York, I took the long flight with South African Airlines to Johannesburg… landing yesterday to a beautiful thunderstorm, delicious food and smiling warm faces and friends.
It is impossible to write about all of the beautiful people and places we encountered today from lunch with “Mama” to the gift of a walk through the corners of Soweto.
The highlight of the day was the Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum which I would rank as one of the most beautiful pieces of architecture and exhibition design I have seen anywhere in the world. The saga of a horrific story told with humanity, humility and passion stirred me deeply.
I copied this quote from a small glass nook where you can look over the vastness of Soweto and imagine – if for just a moment – what courage it took to change a nation:
A bullet burnt
Into soft dark flesh
A child fell
To stain the earth
He was the first victim
Let grieving the willows
Mark the spot
Let nature raise a monument
Of flowers and trees
Lest we forget the foul and the wicked
From Don Mattera, 1976, Azanian Love Song Posted at 11:37 am
“The Moth, a not-for-profit storytelling organization, was founded in New York in 1997 by poet and novelist George Dawes Green, who wanted to recreate in New York the feeling of sultry summer evenings on his native St. Simon’s Island, Georgia, where he and a small circle of friends would gather to spin spellbinding tales on his friend Wanda’s porch.”
I am not a great sports fan but I am a lover of storytelling; this weeks podcast from The Moth is a fantastic tale. Don’t miss Matthew McCaughey telling, “My First Day with the Yankees.”
Subscribe to The Moth weekly podcast through iTunes.
Here is another new book from STC and this one very different from The Gentle Art of Domesticity. Lena Corwin has created the definitive book for the process of stamping, printing and stenciling by hand. This book is a great companion to our Alabama Stitch Book as it goes in depth to simply explain the process of transferring patterns to fabric, paper, wood or any other material you might choose to work with.