Oxford writer Sylvia Vetta fills her memoirs with delicious recipes

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Oxford author Sylvia Vetta has written her memoirs and her facinating life story comes with an added ingredient – it is packed with tasty recipes.

Mrs Vetta, who lives in Kennington, recently launched her memoirs, entitled Food of Love, at the Old Fire Station in Oxford.

Her hard-hitting life story features her marriage to Indian-born Atam Vetta, their family life, and how she confronts incidents of racism and sexism.

Read again: Community organiser Sylvia Vetta focuses on writing career

At the end of every chapter there are recipes which have meant a great deal to Mrs Vetta and her family over the years.

For decades the writer was a leading light in the campaign to save Kennington Library, and the Kennington Overseas Aid charity.

And for 10 years she also wrote the Castaways column for The Oxford Times, before turning to a career as an author.

Oxford Mail:

After writing three novels inspired by real lives, she decided to write her memoirs, to place herself into the story of changing Britain.

Mrs Vetta’s life story has been published by Claret Press.

She said: “The reason I agreed to let Claret Press publish it is because I believe that the experience and voice of women like me who married non-white men when that was regarded with hostility, is completely ignored, airbrushed out of our own history.”

At the launch of Food of Love: cooking up a life across gender, class and race,there was a discussion on the subject, Breaking the barriers of gender, class and race.

An all-female cast panel included Junie James of the Windrush Group and Rev Charlotte Bannister-Parker, and Prof Jane Spiro of Oxford Brookes University.

Read again: A novel walk around Oxford with Sylvia Vetta

Prof Spiro said: “Sylvia Vetta’s story takes us through her many lives, as she reinvents herself time and time again, rising from the ashes of prejudice, misogyny, racism and greed to renew herself. While it is a story of England’s hidden everyday evils, it is a story too of what can be achieved with a life steered by passion, integrity and courage.”

Oxford Mail:

Mrs Vetta said her life story features a working-class girl who would not have enjoyed the life she has had without access to Luton Central Library.

That is why she was passionate about saving Oxfordshire libraries and, this year, has been involved in raising money to build the first community library in the Mumias district of west Kenya – an area the size of Oxfordshire.

In Kennington, at the family and friends launch, with food prepared using recipes in the book, a raffle was held for the library overseen by the Nasio Trust library, and supporters celebrated passing the target of £10,000.

Oxford historian, Professor Rana Mitter, said Mrs Vetta Sylvia tells her story with ‘brio and verve’.

He added:”This astonishing life story takes in working-class life in post-war Britain, and the transformation of society in the decades that followed.”

Oxford Mail:

Mrs Vetta said: “I didn’t want it to be a miserable read so I’m delighted that the artist Diana Bell  finds it ‘amusing and entertaining’ and the famous poet, Sudeep Sen, says it’s ‘a joy to read.’”

She added: “Food runs through the narrative like a river of love connecting us. 

“At the end of each chapter is a recipe provided by family members and friends.

‘Behind us is the restricted diet of the fifties. Now we can taste the world and relish it. With food comes love and with love comes hope.”

Food of Love is published by Claret Press at claretpress.com.

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This story was written by Andy Ffrench, he joined the team more than 20 years ago and now covers community news across Oxfordshire.

Get in touch with him by emailing: Andy.ffrench@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter @OxMailAndyF