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Updated: Apr 12, 2022

In the beginning:

Running the RCS Bath and District Branch during Covid-19 has certainly had its challenges, however our team of trustees has been coming with some excellent alternatives to the usual physical meetings including recently a very successful online Commonwealth Cook Up.

Over the past year working mainly on Zoom and other social platforms, we have run a number of events including an AGM and an excellent Christmas party organising by our Honorary Secretary Alan Howe. This time however it was the turn of one of our newer trustees Lotte Veale to set the scene.

An ex-student of Bath Spa University and then the Queen Mary University in London, Lotte worked together with Alan, our secretary to create a unique online experience involving members and friends focusing on food from around the Commonwealth.

The plan:

The event featured meals and recipes from around the Commonwealth and included live links with Canada, Zambia and with international students as well as local members who provided recipes from Singapore, Australia, and New Zealand and beyond.

Commonwealth student members from Bath Universities took part together with a Canadian based professor from Bath Spa and our patron the Mayor of Bath. Participants were initially contacted and asked if they would like to take part. If they agreed they were then required to come up with a local dish from their region of the Commonwealth.

On the day:

On the day each participant was required to present a dish that they had cooked earlier or carried out a live ‘cook up.’ The event was also timed for early evening to take on board International time zones.

Around 20 people took part with dishes ranging from street food in Singapore, to roasted caterpillars in Zambia and piping hot maple syrup pancakes live from Ottawa. Members were able to watch as dishes were prepared or presented and then ask questions afterwards also recounting some of their own Commonwealth culinary experiences.

Using a real time international network students in Zambia were able to link up with their counterparts in Bath and students could watch as one of their professors and her family beamed live from Canada. Contributions from the other side of the world included Lamingtons from an Australian member in Bath, a UK students who cooked some Anzac biscuits and recipes from New Zealand from a local member and one time employee of the BBC.

Not only was there a lot of laughter during the event but it also provided an excellent chance for intergenerational sharing of cultures and ideas.

The next step:

The event was so successful that it has been decided to go ahead and produce an online Commonwealth Cookbook which if successful may be turned into a printed copy to raise funds for one of our linked Commonwealth charities. The cookbook which is being put by Lotte with help from Alan Howe, is due to be launched at this year’s branch AGM. Contributions are already flooding in and include a recipe from our branch president Annie Maw the Lord Lieutenant of Somerset who spent some time in India and our patron the Mayor of Bath. Lotte also hopes to include in the publication recipes from the Falklands, New Zealand, Africa, Asia and Australia.

Sample recipe:

Highlights from the event:

  • Cooking maple syrup pancakes live from a kitchen in Ottawa.

  • The live presentation of a plethora of local Zambian dishes from Jasiel in Mufulira including roasted caterpillars.

  • The exchange between students as they compared and contrasted different dishes.

  • Street food from Singapore presented by a local Singaporean member Irene Prentice.

  • Laughter!

Final thoughts:

Finally I would like to say a big thank you and congratulate our team and all those involved who have worked so hard in organising this amazing event and for the response from members and friends of the Bath and District Branch.

Please get in touch with us via our website if you would like to provide any simple local dishes you have cooked to be included in perhaps a second volume. You will also need to submit a picture of yourself, the dish you have cooked, the recipe and a short introduction, please email this information to me via our website.

Also look out for further information on our Commonwealth cookbook on our website

Other future local events will be a Commonwealth Picnic (within Covid-19 restrictions) and our 2022 RCS Bath and District Art Competition which is being led by Anita St John Gray who was responsible along with her team in the organisation of our very successful 2021 Art Competition and details of which can be seen on our website.

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