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.
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.
Hit “BOOM” at the top left corner with your email address my friend, to receive a new weekly recipe direct to your inbox.