Cooking for Ukraine
and the beginnings of this here scribbling space
A few months ago, I left my full-time food writing job to figure out what's next. A few creative projects have percolated, for which I'm grateful, but I'm also called to do something that is bigger than me, bigger than all of us. So in a few weeks, I am taking my cooking skills on the road, headed to Poland to volunteer with World Central Kitchen.
Founded by chef Jose Andres in 2010 in response to the devastating earthquake in Haiti, WCK is an amazing nonprofit that responds to worldwide disasters with food. Almost as soon as Russian forces invaded Ukraine, WCK has been a stalwart presence inside Ukraine and in Poland, where more than 2 million refugees have fled (according to the United Nations Refugee Agency), feeding people who have been displaced and who have no idea if they will have a home to return to.
Preparing the simplest of dishes — a bowl of oatmeal, a fried egg, a cheese sandwich — is arguably the stuff of magic, even when we do it for ourselves. Now imagine all the fairy dust that gets sprinkled when a whole bunch of cooks come together and feed those who cannot feed themselves. It’s the thing that keeps hope alive, even in the darkest, most horrid moments.
For a minute, as I contemplated this trip, I wondered how my efforts could make a dent in the abyss of war. But then my friend Grace Young, who has been tirelessly raising awareness and money for AAPI communities across America, reminded me of this saying from the late great Desmond Tutu: “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”
In other words, we can make a difference, crumb by crumb. And this is why I'm going.
As I embark on this adventure, I am finally giving birth to a Substack account that I created a few years ago and had ignored. Watch here for updates, random thoughts and other tidbits. Feel free to post your thoughts in the comments, or send me a note when the mood strikes or just because.
Keep the spirit of cooking alive. Keep the people of Ukraine in your thoughts.