UNITED NATIONS   -   A beautifully illustrated book, featuring recipes of Pakistani cuisine, was launched here at a glittering ceremony, with Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi, permanent representative of Pakistan to the United Nations, saying that she helped to commission this for the benefit of the global community at the UN.

“Dining Along the Indus” was put together by Nestle, a Swiss multinational food and drink processing company, under Ambassador Lodhi’s direction and the project took several months to complete.

It will go to top UN officials and to 192 countries represented at the UN.  Apart from the food and the recipes, the book also celebrates the splendor of Pakistan, with colourful and striking pictures depicting a country which is modern, but with ancient roots and a rich cultural heritage.

Thursday’s reception, a largely attended affair that everyone seemed to enjoy, was jointly organised at UN Headquarters in New York by the Permanent Missions of Pakistan and Switzerland to also mark the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. Swiss Ambassador Jurg Lauber spoke briefly on the occasion.

Both the Pakistani and Swiss envoys referred to the significant investments made by Swiss companies in Pakistan over the years that had strengthened the bonds between the two nations.

President of the UN General Assembly Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces, who was chief guest at the event, attended by ambassadors, senior UN officials and journalists, recalled her visit to Pakistan in January, saying, “I fell in Love- with the people, the landscape and the food. So you can be sure that this book will be prioritized on my reading list.”

Talking to APP about the 148-page book, Ambassador Lodhi said, “The idea came from my desire to showcase the distinctive nature of Pakistani cuisine even though it has been influenced by our immediate and wider neighbourhood.”

“I am grateful to Nestle Pakistan for producing a first rate book,” she added. Ms. Helen Medina represented Nestle at the event.

Earlier, welcoming the guests, the Pakistani envoy highlighted the distinct nature of Pakistani cuisine.

Explaining title of the book, Ambassador Lodhi said that banks of the Indus River had been home to some of world’s oldest civilizations. “So the title of this book reflects what has also come to define the cuisine that has evolved as part of Pakistan’s journey,” she said, and added, “Every region of Pakistan has also produced its own specialty as the various dishes and their names in this book signify.”

Pakistan’s culinary journey, Ambassador Lodhi said, had been greatly influenced by the country’s location at the intersection of three regions – South Asia, Central Asia and South West Asia. “Thus the influences of several civilizations have left a deep imprint on Pakistan, a crossroads state, where an exciting fusion of such cultures has defined Pakistani life, including its culinary heritage,” she elaborated. 

In her remarks, Ms. Espinosa, the president of the 193-member Assembly, said, “The act of breaking bread with family, friends and strangers is one that resonates in societies throughout the world. Citing Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), she said, “Eat together, and not separately for the blessing is associated with the company.”

“Indeed,” Ms. Espinosa said, “food can achieve something that we at the UN strive to do every day. Gather people from all backgrounds and walks of life around a table.”

“By cooking and eating together, we can explore our common history and humanity, and develop greater understanding of our shared aspirations to combat hunger and promote food security,” she added.

Referring to the Nelson Mandela Day at a community culinary center in Brooklyn, she lauded the work it does by offering healthy, accessible cuisine to the residents of one of the most marginalized neighbourhoods in New York-- carrying forward Madiba’s ideals of service, the spirit of hospitality that characterizes Islam, Christianity and other religions.

“And through food, we can delight in the simple pleasures of life - pleasures that we want to preserve for future generations, by building sustainable, inclusive societies, and by celebrating and protecting our diverse cultural heritage,” Ms. Espinosa added.

Guests enjoyed an array of “Street Food” from Pakistan as well as traditional rice and barbecue chicken and beef Kababs. The street food table was crowded with inquisitive guests trying out and enjoying ‘gol guppas’ and ‘chaat’.