FOOD IS A PASSPORT to other cultures as well as other countries. I'm an amateur cook and food has always been a big part of my life: cooking, photographing, interviewing people about their food stories, and writing about it.

Years ago I had a diagnosis for a small but malignant tumour, which was removed. After this lucky escape I decided it was time to visit one of the countries I have wanted to travel to since I was four years old – Trinidad. It was the beginning of my love affair with hot, sunny climates and the spices, tropical fruits, and foods that grow in these regions.

Food has the power to connect people and break down barriers – if we are all eating at the same table.

I wrote SOULiCiOUS because I believe that "The history of Soul Food reminds us, and the sharing of Soul Food binds us".

Sharing stories is an important way to share knowledge, and help us see into other people's lives and histories. I feel it's important to celebrate and learn from those stories and memories ... before they disappear.

There are so many stories intertwined with food: stories of healing, joy and celebration, poverty and excess, issues of food sovereignty, and a lack of access to fresh food that can lead to ill health, and a disconnection with Nature.

Fresh food awakens our taste buds to natural flavours. There is no substitute for the natural flavours of produce harvested snap-fresh from a garden.

I belong to a community garden, and there is no better way to build a sense of community than to share the growing and cooking of food. But not everyone has access to fresh ingredients, or their own garden. And government and commercial planning decisions affect the location and type of food outlets available locally.

If you live in an apartment like I do, try to find a local community garden near you or start your own. Invest your time and your tastebuds, and make new friendships.

And if you're lucky enough to have a hen house at your garden, you'll find spending time with chickens will quickly give you a sunny outlook on life, as well as fresh eggs.

I hope you'll buy my book, enjoy it, and be inspired.

rlem and s
Behind the scenes...
The Dixie Chicks at my local community garden / Eating my first ever biscuit in North Carolina / test cooking waffles for a photoshoot / Fun in the kitchen ... alien-shaped hushpuppies / Yes, that's me, with garlic I pulled fresh out of the soil from our garden plot.

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SOULICIOUS – Recipes and Interviews from my Soul Food Journey to the USA. ISBN