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Writer and priest Malcolm Doney cooks up a storm as he explores our relationship with food with help from poet Pablo Neruda and the music of Cab Calloway.

Writer and priest Malcolm Doney cooks up a storm as he explores our relationship with food. Using the chef's holy trinity of onion, carrots and celery as his starting point, Malcolm examines the preparation of meals - an act he describes as a sacred mystery.

For many faiths, Malcolm reveals, food is of vital significance. We take in the Langar, a kitchen-cum-canteen that's an essential part of every Sikh Gurdwara, and then stop off at an evangelical picnic, before celebrating the breaking of the fast after Ramadan.

Featured poetry includes Pablo Neruda's Ode to the Onion and Douglas Dunn's Ratatouille, a dish so special the poet claims it can be used as a kind of peace treaty. The programme also features the words of former Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks and the American writer and activist Sara Miles.

Musical selections include Cab Calloway and the Choir of King's College Cambridge's stunning rendition of Panis Angelicus.

Presenter: Malcolm Doney
Producer: Max O'Brien
A TBI Media production for BBC Radio 4.

30 minutes

Music Played

  • Lambert, Hendricks & Ross

    Home Cookin’

  • Cab Calloway

    Everybody Eats When They Come To My House

  • Choir of King’s College, Cambridge

    Panis Angelicus

  • Nomos

    Harvest Home

  • Edwin Hawkins Singers

    Oh Happy Day

  • Choir of King’s College Cambridge conducted by Stephen Cleobury



Back to Basics – The Soffritto by Emiko Davies (self published)

Take This Bread: A Radical Conversion
by Sara Miles (Ballantine Books)

Ode to the Onion by Pablo Neruda (trans. Stephen Mitchell, Bloodaxe)

The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food by Judith Jones (Alfred A Knopf)

by Douglas Dunn (Bloodaxe)

Indian Takeaway
by Hardeep Singh Kohli (Canongat)

Headache by Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore (The Ecstatic Exchange)