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When times are tough …

For many people this column might read like a sonata to superfoods. Or exclusively for geezers who fetishise loose-leaf tea and home made facemasks.

I get that. I am, after all, a professional nut (short for nutritional cook).

Lately, writing about food feels ridiculous in the face of much wider global geopolitical events. Finding meaning in a recipe column can be hard when, all around us, horrific things are happening in the rising tide of racism and religious fever. For some time I’ve been feeling queasy about this.

It feels rather pathetic writing about a jar of salsa verde. I feel ashamed that food has colonised a rather large slice of my brain this week, while thousands of Syrian refugees continue to sleep rough in our ‘civilised’ Western world, and families in Manchester mourn their beloved.

And what now? Do I stop writing recipes? Stop feeding people in a mute sort of protest? Why can’t I stop feeling impotent? Is it shame for not helping or getting involved? Or is it raw, unadulterated guilt?



And then it hits me as ferociously as a fly swat. Food is not trivial. Food is an essential part of life, far beyond physical nourishment. Food is celebration. It is at the epicentre of our lives. We share stories of hope and fear at the dinner table. We find meaning over food – we come together and learn more about each other. Care for each other. Solve problems side-by-side. Navigate the world and its tumultuous prejudices together. It is through shared meals that we celebrate the essence of being.

I can’t adopt a Syrian child, or pick a family up at the Libyan boarder. But I can encourage you, dear reader, to eat together; to make meals together; to talk openly about issues affecting us both locally and globally; to invite new voices and new neighbours to the table; and, above all, to practice listening.

I ain’t no war correspondent. I’m a mother. A sister. A daughter. A wife. There’s a lot we can do in the war against Hate. It starts in the home.



Salsa Verde

For 150ml jar


1 good bunch flat parsley

Generous mint leaves

4 spring onions, chopped

1/2 lemon, juice and zest

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon capers

4 anchovy fillets


Roughly pull off the leaves from the parsley stalks, and drop them into a food processor. Compost the rougher stems – we won’t need them.

Add the remaining ingredients and pulse briefly until it looks like a chunky salsa. If you don’t have a processor, don’t panic. Finely chop it all and tumble together with clean fingers.

Serve on crostini with ricotta, beside white fish, alongside hummus, or crown a bowl of plain quinoa with this verde. During summer months, we toss it through spirulised carrot and apple and bring to BBQs. Your brilliance might piss everyone off, but that’s a pleasure in itself.



Taking the hell out of healthy.

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  • Reply Sharon@A Journey of Steps May 28, 2017 at 2:16 pm

    Hi Susan,

    I feel the exact same way at times – how I can make some small impact towards the greater good. Good food and active discussions are key to formulating ideas, coming together as a community and nourishing ourselves for the ongoing quest. Every little step counts and as Clarissa Pinkola Estes says “we are made for these times”. 🙂 I love Salsa Verde and can’t wait to make my own fresh pot. Hopefully having discussions in the Irish sun. 🙂

    • Reply Susan Jane May 29, 2017 at 8:31 pm

      Thank you dear Sharon. Most generous of you to comment and cheer me up!

  • Reply cate May 28, 2017 at 2:54 pm

    Amen & thank you Susan

  • Reply The Whimsical Bear May 29, 2017 at 8:05 pm

    Well said Susan! Indeed, Claudia Roden was talking about ‘gastropatriotism’ and the potential of food to build bridges and relationships between people at Litfest last week.

    • Reply Susan Jane May 29, 2017 at 8:30 pm

      Oh wow! How beautiful! I’m so inspired now

  • Reply Lori May 29, 2017 at 9:38 pm

    I’m glad you mentioned this because I must tell you that discovering your books and site has been helping me get through a very depressing time in my USA! Everybody has to eat anyway, and your delicious recipes and your fabulous writing make eating ever so much fun. Thanks EVER so much.

    • Reply Susan Jane May 30, 2017 at 8:59 am

      Sniff sniff. Thank you! That cheered me up xxx

  • Reply Anna Doporto Connelly June 1, 2017 at 1:47 am

    Thank you Susan. You echo my thoughts and feelings so powerfully. I get so depressed with all the sad, bad and unneccessary things happening. I am housebound most of the time as I battle this Lymes disease and reading your words and, on a good day, preparing some of your recipes with my husband or daughter give me the reminder and spark of positivity to fight on …Thank you ? ?

    • Reply Susan Jane June 1, 2017 at 12:54 pm

      Oh wow. Sending you strength and tenacity. I’ll be thinking of you and winging some telepathic lovebombs to your kitchen. Thank you for your lovely comments! x

  • Reply Caroline June 12, 2017 at 9:41 am

    Sharing this on my wee fb page and remembering your words for whenever I (inevitably, bi-monthly) doubt if food is a worthwhile focus for life. Thanks for articulating it much better than I ever could. Again.

    • Reply Susan Jane June 13, 2017 at 9:56 pm

      #lovebomb #gratitude ! SJ

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