‘Be My Guest’ by Priya Basil

Be My Guest- Reflections on Food, Community and the Meaning of Generosity

A food memoir by award-winning writer Priya Basil. What’s a food memoir you ask? For starters, it’s definitely one of the more decadent genres of the literary world. A food memoir can be described as a collection of stories about our experiences of food and what it means to us. 

Often I read stories of food being the glue that brings migrant communities together as a reminder of home, a celebration of culture and a common entity bringing new and old friends- good cookbooks that I think of are ‘Heirloom Kitchen: Heritage Recipes and Family Stories from the Tables of Immigrant Women’ or more famously well-known is Megan Markle’s endorsed cookbook ‘Together: Our Community Cookbook’. 

Back to our book at hand! ‘Be Our Guest’ is a meditation on the menacing and limits of hospitality today. 

The dinner table is where some of the best conversations about the world take place. Food is a curious dichotomy in which some have too much and others not enough but it is something that unites us all. Basil’s ‘Be My Guest’ explores hospitality across cultures.I’m taking my time with this book, dipping in and out as I feel inspired. I’m very intrigued by Basil’s flavour of writing- she uses her own heritage to describe the meaning of hospitality at the start of the book. Basil was born in London by is of Indian heritage and grew up in Kenya, she has a passion for food and is an esteemed writer, so you feel what she’s saying is worth your time. 

Overall, I believe this book is good for the soul. As 2020 starts, I’ve noticed a growing trend in my friends commitments for the decade ahead- be more conscious of our eating habits and it’s impact on the environment. This is something I myself have taken on board for the new decade. I believe appreciating the act of eating together again, discarding the fast food mentality of convenience over effort and rather becoming aware of everything to do with what we eat- including where it comes from and what happens if we don’t finish it all can have enormous impacts on our empowerment for a brighter future. 

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