During the past few weeks, I have slowly but surely started sorting through all the AMAZING letters I received via my Meals in the Mail project.
If you haven't heard about this, it's a simple art and community project, involving recipes being sent through the mail. It celebrates the stories behind our favourite recipes: the memories they evoke, the emotions they trigger, the traditions they observe, and the connections they represent. And it harks back to hundreds of years of people sharing their favourite recipes with people they care about, through the post. After all, a handwritten favourite recipe slipped in alongside a newsy letter is one of the simplest and most personal gifts to send in the mail.
When I first launched this project (here), I promised to send a copy of the recipe-collection to everyone who participated. I expected to receive about 10 or 12 recipes, thought 20 would be a very respectable number, and secretly dreamed of having as many as 50.
As of yesterday, an enormous pile of 209 recipes in almost 200 letters from all over the world had taken over all the available space on my workbench. They arrived in my PO Box with stories of first-love, comfort, nostalgia, family traditions, adventures, and many fond memories forged and shared across the kitchen table.
In many cases, I was truly flabbergasted by the creativity and generosity of spirit that people put into making the mail they sent me. Thoughtfully decorated envelopes, illustrated recipes, and vulnerable, heartfelt words.
Themes are starting to emerge, and I'm learning a lot. That brownies are one of the most popular foods for comfort and community... all over the world. That food and young love are frequently intertwined. That recipes are passed through generations and cherished like heirlooms. And that there's a special food and fond memory to go with almost every calendar event or milestone you can think of: Christmas, New Year, birthdays, new babies, graduations... you name it, there's a precious family recipe to commemorate it.
Now the time has come for me to figure out how to turn all that beautiful mail and delicious food into a wonderful book that all of us will love to browse... and use. The first step is to sort through all the mail and stocktake what I have, to somehow categorise all the recipes, stories and art for the book.
And that's where you come in. If you sent me a recipe and story, first of all, THANK YOU. Below is a list of all the recipes I have received so far, so if you have been wondering if your letter made it to me, take a look through this list (it is in alphabetical order by first names) to see if you are there. (Also, you can take a sneaky look at some of the recipes in this collection!)
Because this project is so much bigger than I had originally intended, I also need to be a lot more scrupulous in terms of ensuring I have written permission to use your recipes and all the beautiful artwork on your letters.
For this reason, although I hadn't originally asked for it, I'm now seeking some electronic way of contacting you. (This will also help if I need to clarify something in your recipe or story later on). Therefore if you see an asterix (*) next to your name on the list, will you please send me either your email address or Instagram handle? You can email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
But first, the mystery.
Did you send the letter in this picture, or do you know the person who did? It is so beautifully and thoughtfully made, but the writer didn't include a name or address. Only that they are from Dublin, Ireland. I would really love to include the recipe but first need to find out who sent it! Any help you could give me would be wonderfully appreciated.
Onwards to the list (it's a big one!)...
If you see an asterix (*) next to your name in the list below, please send your email address or Instagram handle to me at email@example.com. If you don't see your name, it means your letter hasn't arrived yet. Don't worry! Until I actually start laying out pages, I can still fit it in.
*Abigail-USA-Split pea soup
*Alessandra-Austria-Strawberry curd cheese dumplings
Ally-Australia-Chocolate snowball biscuits
*Amber-New Zealand -Marmalade & ginger slice
*Amélie-France-Chili sin carne (vegan)
Amy -New Zealand -Honey chocolate pudding
Anastasiya-Russia-Quinoa fresh salad
*Anette -Germany -Ham ball
*Angela-USA-Chocolate orange truffles
Anne -The Netherlands-Penne with vodka sauce
*Anne Marie-USA-Dutch baby puffy pancakes
Asher -Australia-Caprese salad
Bekah-Canada -Chicken rice casserole & Chocolate chip cookies
*Bianca -Australia-Vegan crimson velveteen cupcakes
*Brianna-Australia-Soy Sauce Beef
Candice-Australia-Pumpkin & pip muffins
*Cassie-New Zealand -Bread
Cathy-USA-Gazpacho (tomato soup)
*Charlene-USA-Golden-crusted brussel sprouts & Strawberries and cream biscuits
*Charlotte-The Netherlands-Cookies (koekjes)
*Charlyne -UK-Elderflower cordial
*Chelsea-USA-Pork Hash & Guinness bread
*Cindy-USA-Gluten free scones
*Claudia-Germany -Bread rolls
*Diane -USA-Cheese Enchiladas
*Elise-Australia-Mock Chicken & Golden Syrup Dumplings
*Elizabeth-USA-Back country pizza
*Emma-USA-Peanut butter cookies
*Estelle-UK-Petit Pot (crème aux oeufs)
*Flavia-Brazil-Brigadeiro (chocolate truffle); Beifink; Lemon mousse; Caipirosca
*Georgina-Australia-Passionfruit and white chocolate cheesecake
*Grace-Singapore-Braised ginger chicken
*Grazia-Italy-Orecchiete con le aime di rapa; & Seppie e pieslli
*Ingrid-France-Ice cream pops with granola
*Ioana-Romania-Polenta; Waffle cake; Mosaic roll
Jaimee-New Zealand -Apple dumplings
*Janae-USA-Chocolate zucchini cake
*Jane-Germany -Cherry Streusel Cake (Kirschstreuselkuchen)
*Jean -USA-Indian tacos
*Jessica -Australia -Brownies (caramello)
*JJ -USA-Vegan ice-cream
Joanne-Australia-Pineapple upside down cake
*Joanne-USA-Alma's hot dog hors d'oeuvres
Jodie -Australia-Chocolate cake
Joelle-Singapore-Jelly hearts; Cantonese egg whites; Smiling sesame balls
*Julia-Australia -Fruit cake
*Julie-USA-Crazy Chocolate Cake
*Karen-USA-Spicy Apple Pancakes
*Kari -USA-Rice casserole
*Kate-Australia -Chicken & corn soup
*Kate-Russia-Mushroom & potato casserole
Katherine-Australia-Greeny goodness soup
*Kim -USA-Cranberry apple cake & Danish pastry
*Kimberlee-USA-Raspberry almond shortbread cookies
*Kristy-Australia -Chicken bake
*Laicy-USA-Caramel top rolls
*Lana -USA-Cheese straws
*Laura-New Zealand -Brownies
*Laura-USA-Chocolate chip cookies
Lee -Australia-Remembrance biscuits
*Levenia (Vena)-USA-Tea cake
*Liza-Australia-Nutritious Notella Biscuits
Mandy-USA-Issan (Thai)-style chicken on a stick
Mandy-USA-Thai cashew chicken
*Marcia-Australia-Sumatran egg curry
*Maria-Australia-Arroz Caldo (Filipino chicken porridge)
Maria-Canada-Greek Koulourakia (sesame cookies)
Marianne-New Zealand -Kanel bullar (cinnamon buns)
Marianne-New Zealand -Kartoffeln & Quark
Maryann-South Africa-Aleem soup
Maureen-New Zealand -Cheese puffs
Mel-Australia-Chocolate avocado muffins
*Melayna-Canada-Cod with tomatoes & leeks
*Melissa-New Zealand -Sago & Coconut Pudding
*Melissa-USA-Special K Bars
*Melissa-USA-Baked spaghetti; caramel apple dip; and carrot cake
Michaela -USA-Gooseberry apple pie
Mikulcza-Hungary-Scottish butter cookies
Miya-Austria-Brownies (olive oil & sea salt)
*Mrs VG-UK-Impossible pie
*Nancy-USA-Choc marvel cake
Nicolé-Germany-Wild salmon & potato casserole
Nuala-Australia -Vietnamese spring rolls
Paisley-Canada-Lavender loaf with lemon glaze
*Pam -USA-King Ranch Casserole
Pamela-USA-Zuccini flower casserole
*Pamela -USA-Black bottom cupcakes
*Pen-UK-Sweet potato & chilli soup
Philippa-Australia-Chocolate slice "mudflat"
Pia-Germany -Zitronenkudren (lemoncake) von Oma Helene
Pia-Germany -Honey & walnut cake
*Raelyn-New Zealand -Spaghetti with pesto & smoked chicken
*Reagan-Canada-Caesar salad dressing
*Rossetta-USA-Blueberry banana cheesecake
*Sarah-Australia-Mince porcupines & Lime coconut cheesecake
Sarah-Singapore-Stir fried udon noodles
Sarah-USA-Date Nut Pudding
*Sarah -Australia-Lemon drizzle cake
Sheila-USA-Pear shrub cocktail
*Shreya -USA-Chingri Macher Malaikari
Sol Anna-Uruguay-Chocolate roll
*Sonya-Australia-Dark Chocolate Brownies with salted caramel
*Susan-USA-Chocolate crinkles & Butterscotch Lace cookies
Suzanne-UK-Courgette & lime cake
Tashana-New Zealand -Lemon drizzle loaf
Tori-USA-Vegan strawberry donuts
Xin -Singapore-Chicken & mushroom baked rice
*Yam-Spain-Pa amb tomata (bread with tomato)
Zhao-China-Stir fried tomatoes and eggs
Thank you thank you thank you to everyone who has taken part in this project. It has become something extraordinary and very precious to me.