Updated: Mar 3, 2022
I suspect I'm not the only person who has been finding it difficult to concentrate on the mundane matters at hand over the last week. Partly it's the sheer horror of the unfolding human tragedy in Ukraine; largely it's feeling helpless, unable to do anything meaningful to help.
But there is. Two British food writers with Ukrainian roots, Olia Hercules and Alissa Timoshkina, have set up the #CookForUkraine campaign in association with Unicef UK to help raise much-needed funds for the thousands of Ukrainian people who have been displaced by events.
It's easy to take part in the movement: you'll find all you need on this #CookForUkraine Just Giving page about how to host a supper club or bake sale, then ask your guests to make a donation.
In my experience, food lovers are some of the most generous, curious, enlightened and engaged people out there. In troubled times, many of us find the kitchen to be a place of solace; if we can transform that into tangible funds that will help diminish the suffering in some small way, then it's time and effort well spent.
You can, of course, just donate funds directly. So far, at the time of writing, the campaign has raised almost £32,000 from 719 supporters. Chefs and restaurateurs across the capital are also raising vital funds in support of Ukraine. Eater London is keeping tabs on what London's hospitality industry is doing to help.
The books pictured above include three by Ukrainian-born Olia, one each by Polish-born Zuza Zak and Romanian-born Irina Georgescu, the classic The Georgian Feast by Darra Goldstein, and Please to the Table by Anya von Bremzen and John Welchman. The latter was written in 1990, just before the collapse of the Soviet Union, covers food from the Baltic Republics, the Caucasus, Central Asia and Ukraine, and emphasises food's innate power to unite.
These books would make great starting points for recipes from across the region. I recommend reading and cooking from them all and can also recommend Alissa Timoshkina's Salt and Time (my copy has vanished).
If you know an indie bookseller who might like to do something similar with their authors, let them know.
Aggression and hate are no match for unity and solidarity. #StandWithUkraine