The Gypsy Cook Book By Caleb Botton

17 March 2021
Food cooking on the fire

TT caught up with Caleb Botton author of, The Gypsy cookbook: a history of Romany and Travelling people and their food.

Romany, Caleb Botton has, during his decades of travelling as a filmmaker and lecturer, tasted his way through the world. However, on one of these journeys, on an island, off the coast of Bali, something happened…

“I watched an old woman crouch down on a dirt street making food over an open flame. She threw in greens, spices and created an aromatic delight. It reminded me of my own grandmother, preparing our meals over the fire.”

The memories of growing up with Gypsy and Traveller food resonated so much in the flames of the woman’s wok in Malaysia that he immediately started to film and write. This work would take nearly a decade of research and travel. The book is now ready and he is also making a TV series to accompany it.

It’s part cookery, part travel and part history of the Romany, Gypsy and Travelling cultures. Think Anthony Bourdain meets Keith Floyd, revealing a people who have spanned the globe for over a millennium.

“Cooking is an intimate act experienced by everyone…the connection with food and earth is the tale of not just my folk, it’s worldwide. From Bali to Busan, Italy to Xian, America to India and England. This is The Gypsy Cook Book.”

It’s about the relationship of the Gypsy people between food and land and what grows and grazes on it; and also the fire, heritage and hearth which defines diaspora of over a thousand of Romani, Gypsies and Travellers. It’s about survival, racism and, of course, eating.

“Our food is colourful, exotic and diverse. As nomads, we borrowed ingredients from wherever we went. We have a rich and fascinating culture, and I wanted to explore not just the traditional recipes, passed down from generation to generation, but how they’ve moved from country to country - and on with the times.

“At the very centre of the Gypsy world, is ‘family’. You cook for your loved ones. You cook with passion. You cook with the knowledge that you are continuing an extraordinary legacy

“It is time to write this story, my story and the story of Gypsies.”

Expect both the book and the TV show later this year.

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