We’ve lived in some fantastic Army communities and it seems that often the best spirit lives in the remote postings, writes food editor and Great Taste Award judge AJ Sharp. When you’re away from home, your neighbours become more than friends, they’re your support network and your family. One of the best ways to unite a community is through food – not only is it vital, it’s fun and delicious. There are so many ways to get involved from barbecues and street parties, to community centre cafés, coffee mornings and much more. I took a look at how food is helping to bring Army families together around the world…
Olivia Taheri was asked by families in BATUK to offer Chinese cooking lessons.
“I’m not the best cook,” she admitted. “But I thought cooking sessions would be a great way to bring the community together, so I approached a restaurant in Nairobi, The Greens Wood Grill & Lounge, which was more than happy to come to Nanyuki and teach a few simple dishes that could be recreated at home.”
The Army Welfare Service laid on a momo-making course following requests for evening classes that weren’t just fitness based.
Community support senior development worker Nik Turk enlisted the help of Sarita Rai, who taught participants how to make pastry and prepare the filling for the Nepali speciality dish.
“Parts of the course were live streamed via the Persicope app, which allowed people from across the world to observe and participate,” said Nik.
Karigo Ndolo and Phoebe Perrott are both Kenyan spouses of British soldiers. They decided that a Kenyan cookery lesson would be something enjoyable for the community.
“What better way to integrate the ladies and gents of BATUK than helping them learn how to make food from the country they’ll live in for the next two years,” said Karigo. Chapati, pilau and mandazi were particular favourites at the class held at the welfare centre in Nyati Barracks.
According to community liaison officer Amanda Affleck, the most popular hangout for military families in Stavanger is a coffee morning on base.
“It was initially set up by a UK spouse for people to have a decent cuppa that didn’t cost a small fortune and has become so popular that it now runs weekly,” she explained. “With freshly-roasted coffee and home baking – both businesses set up by UK spouses – it’s become a hub for families of all nations, military personnel and visitors.”
Food plays a key role for the Forces community in Brussels according to community liaison officer Katie Dickinson.
“There’s nothing we like more, and you’re not a local until you’ve tried a Kriek [beer] – you don’t have to actually like it!”