“Food has the ability to carry you away to another moment and place.”
: Asma Khan

Stories do the same,
whether it’s a poem, or a book,
whether it’s a film or a play.
They can carry you away.

A turn in a direction.
Can bring the beauty of connection.

A slight change of scene
can inspire new means.

As stories unfold
they can be food for the soul.

With a scent or a sound.
Lost memories are found.

With a touch or a thought.
recalls a desire once sought.

A flavour or theme.
A particular scene.

We’re all made of stories.
Ones mayn’t expect.

And when they intersect,
that’s when we connect.

We’re brought together by shared experience.
Literally or digitally, emotionally or physically.
A shared passion or belief, a shared style or taste.
A shared moment at the same time,
or being in the same place.


Toward the end of 2017, I was in the middle of Seth Godin‘s online marketing course.
It wasn’t until a year later that I met any of my cohorts in real life.
Silke connects people, seemingly without thinking about it.
It feels like it’s her natural raison d’être.
For her business, Local Insiders, she connects people
who want a unique experience when visiting a new city.

We decided to meet at her friend’s new pop-up tea house,
Calcutta Canteen, it was just off Carnaby Street.

We spoke about her love of finding something new,
finding the unique,
connecting the pieces,
and loving the story.
This in contrast to how she felt let down
by certain brands when she realised
that they manufactured their products in environments
not aligned with the image or values she believed they portrayed.

Calcutta Canteen felt unique,
a tea house in the midst of many coffee shops.
A casual family feel with a friendly vibe.
Where the owner was integral to that feeling.

Passion for Cooking

Silke introduced me to her friend Asma,
who spoke about recent moments in her story.
Her passion for cooking.
Other people’s passion for her food.

I love food, I love good stories … and I love books…
Asma showed me her cookbook.
It was an inevitable purchase.

“Food has the ability to carry you away to another moment and place.”
: Asma Khan

Arriving in the UK from Calcutta, feeling isolated,
Asma realised food was also her way to connect;
with home, with new friends…
“Breaking bread with others leads to conversations about ‘home’
no matter how far away that place might be
or how little knowledge of a country or culture people may have.”

Learning from different people, but with the same essence;
the same feeling.

I paraphrase from her book;
“One man, almost blind, would describe how something should look or smell when ready.
‘The onions need to look like pearls’,
and would encourage me to link it to a memory with a similar feeling.
Recipes were taught as stories, rather than through instructions.”

Second Daughters

In 2017, Asma (who was the first UK chef
to appear on this year’s Netflix’s Chef’s Table,)
opened the Darjeeling Express, on Kingly Street.
A restaurant with an all-female team in the kitchen.
All the women are women like her;
second daughters within traditional Indian families.

“I know that ‘second women’ are givers: they’re team players.”

Asma explains that, while born in to privilege herself,
she wants to lift those who weren’t.
Within the hierarchy of some traditional Indian families,
a second daughter can still be seen as a disappointment,
and so has set up her own charity called Second Daughters
for those who suffer.

In her book, ‘Indian Kitchen’,
we’re reminded of her mother’s food for the soul philosophy;
“As a cook, you are the vehicle to heal
and nourish the soul.

Your food should feel like an embrace.”

Thank you for reading.

Have a beautiful night.

Anthony Stoker

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