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Why Meghan Markle Made Secret Trips to This Muslim Center

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex cooking with women in the Hubb Community Kitchen at the Al Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre. Photo by Jenny Zarins via Getty

When London’s Grenfell Tower was devastated by a blaze in June 2017, taking more than 70 lives and leaving hundreds homeless, many stepped up to support those affected. Among them was Meghan Markle, who first visited Al Manaar, the Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre in West London, in January to meet volunteers and survivors of the tragic event. The now-Duchess of Sussex has secretly been continuing her visits – which have now resulted in a charitable new initiative.

The royal yesterday helped unveil Together, a cookbook crafted with 50 recipes from women who use the centre to prepare food for their families. “In January 2018, when I was settling into my new home in London, I met a group of women whose community had been affected by the Grenfell Fire,” said Markle in a video shared on the official Kensington Palace Instagram account. “I immediately felt connected to this community kitchen. Like these women, I am passionate about food and cooking as a way of strengthening communities.”

Over the months, the duchess and the women came to cook together at the center, forming the Hubb Community Kitchen (“Hubb” means love in Arabic). “An apron was quickly wrapped around me, I pushed up my sleeves, and I found myself washing the rice for lunch,” revealed Markle of her first visit. The resulting book brings together recipes passed down over generations from families with roots in Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean.

The duchess has penned a foreword for Together, which pays tribute to her love of food as well as her “immediate connection” to the community kitchen. “It is a place for women to laugh, grieve, cry and cook together,” she wrote. “Melding cultural identities under a shared roof, it creates a space to feel a sense of normalcy – in its simplest form, the universal need to connect, nurture, and commune through food, through crisis or joy – something we can all relate to.”

Profits from the book, supported by The Royal Foundation and published by Penguin Random House, will benefit the Hubb Community Kitchen, “enabling it to stay open and to thrive,” Kensington Palace added. “The Duchess was inspired by how the project empowers women at a grassroots level, and championed the cookbook project as a way of ensuring the kitchen can continue transforming lives and communities through cooking.” Together: Our Community Kitchen will be released on September 25.

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