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Getting to know you at The Big Lunch

Join in this celebration of food and community spirit

The Big Lunch is back and coming to a neighbourhood near you on Sunday June 3

The idea is simple. In June each year, The Big Lunch encourages people to spend a few hours getting to know their neighbours, celebrating community spirit and food right across the nation. Last year more than nine million people took part.

Choice has teamed up with food writer, journalist and broadcaster Diana Henry, pictured above, and, on the opposite page, she brings you the perfect picnic recipe if you’re planning on hosting a Big Lunch this summer. “The Big Lunch provides a great excuse to come together to eat,” Diana said. “To celebrate it, why not make my Gooseberry Kuchen? It’s easy, it’s seasonal and it’s delicious.

“Kuchen is just the German word for ‘cake’ but the first time I had this was in the United States where the recipe was used as a blueprint for all types of fruit puddings (the same batter would be topped with sliced plums, apples, pears and whole berries such as cranberries or blackberries, depending on the time of year).

“It’s quite an odd batter – very stiff – but it works well. I hope you like it!”

It's all about making a connection

This year Ainsley Harriott is encouraging the nation to be a part of The Big Lunch.

“It’s no secret that I love food,” he says. “I love preparing it, cooking it and serving it. But the thing I love most about food is sharing it.

“You don’t need to be a gourmet chef to host a Big Lunch, just rustle up some simple snacks and invite the neighbours round. That’s what’s so great about this initiative.

“It doesn’t have to be a feast, just do whatever you feel comfortable cooking. It’s more about reaching out and making a connection with your local community.

“When I was young, my mother was always cooking and inviting people to pull up a chair in our kitchen, so I grew up with a strong sense of community. I’d come home from school and she’d be chopping, mixing and chatting. She loved to get us to try different tastes and I saw the reaction from aunties and neighbours when they tried her creations, it was such a shared experience.

“That’s one of the reasons I got into cooking. There’s nothing better than plonking a big bowl of something delicious in the middle of a table and watching everyone tuck in. My favourite would have to be a fish stew. It’s one of those perfect year-round meals that’s great for sharing and definitely a way to impress the neighbours.

“I know it’s sometimes hard to strike up a conversation with a stranger, even if they live next door, but I really urge anyone to give it a go. You’ve got absolutely nothing to lose and it could be the perfect excuse to dust off an old cookbook and get eating and meeting!”

How to get involved

You’ll find everything you need on the website: (www.thebiglunch.com) including registration for a free pack to help you organise your own Big Lunch with your community. Everyone’s invited. For general enquiries, call 0845 850 8181.

What do you think of this? Are you getting involved in The Big Lunch? 

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