“Adults keep saying we owe it to the young people to give them hope. But I don’t want your hope, I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic, I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act, I want you to act as if you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if the house was on fire, because it is.”
Greta Thunberg, Davos World Economic Forum, 2019
The year is 160BC. The temple is on fire. The Seleucid Army is threatening to annihilate the Jewish community in ancient Judea, whose existence is poised on a knife-edge. But then come the small plucky band of Maccabees. Through their dedication and self-sacrifice, they manage to repel the might of the empire. Yet when they discover the temple all wrack and ruined, hearts turn from joy to sorrow: there’s barely a drop of oil to keep the sacred flame alive.
But this drop miraculously ends up lasting for a whole eight days. And so this story is celebrated – year after year, century after century – as Chanukah, the festival of lights. To remember how a community saved themselves against extinction. And how one little light fought against the dark for so long. View Post
Take a kitchen. Strip it back to its basic elements. What have you got? A space with a source of heat and water, and somewhere cool and dry for storage. But, in truth, a kitchen has always been much more than that.
Throughout the ages, kitchens have also been places where people come together, cook together, work together, eat together, and keep warm. As such, they’re living breathing spaces: full of energy, purpose, and community.
The history of the kitchen is as old as that of humankind itself – Neanderthals gathering together on the rugged steppes and grassy plains, roasting hulking slabs of meat over raging flames, the smoke billowing into a prehistoric sky.
And in this coming together, with food as the focal point, came the bonds that began to unite people, a sense of community that kept people safe and sowed the seeds of civilisation. View Post
Home. Mine was once a launderette, back in the ‘70s. I wasn’t living there then. I was hardly even born then. But there’s still evidence of it all over the place – from the peculiar frontage to the panoply of pipes protruding defiantly out of the flooring. But times have changed. At least for this building.
For me though, my home is more than a house – more than four walls, windows, roofs and doors. It’s more than the place where my family and I eat, sleep, or take refuge from the cold and rain. It’s the scene of our everyday victories – big and small – celebrating a good day at work or school, a festival or birthday, or just an elaborately-constructed sofa den. And of course, it’s sometimes where opinions are argued, tears are shed, and shoulders are hugged.
Our home isn’t just bricks and mortar. It’s the stage on which our lives unfurl. And I know how lucky that makes me, especially when so many people don’t even have basic shelter.
Let’s cut to the chase. Ceviche. Raw fish dish. From Peru. At a renown London venue, also called Ceviche. Ah ceviche! My dish for the road. Cue tangential preambles to travels in Peru. Such a beautiful country! Such amazing adventures!
Like the time when I inadvertently became a marauding alpaca herder on the High Andes. That was so fun! And of course the time when I went to the airport with a consignment of coca-leaf tea for grandma – she loved a nice cuppa, bless her – only to discover that it’s apparently highly illegal, and two burly Customs officers and one cavity search later, suddenly found myself in a dank Peruvian jail for a period of several months, rescued only after I grassed up a fellow inmate, a notorious gangster by the name of El Diablo, whose fierce henchmen still continue to track me down, which is why I now live incognito as a food-blogger. Well, what a lark that was!
And then the time when.. oh, you know what, just screw it. I’ve never been to Peru, okay? I can’t keep this pretence up any longer. So here’s the thing – instead of Peru, I’m gonna write about somewhere else, a country that also does ceviche, a place I’ve actually been to.. View Post
Nomads. We are all nomads at heart. The first humans were hunter-gatherers, and that primal seed still lies somewhere deep inside us.
My own inner nomad started on a trip to Alaska, half a lifetime ago. From Vancouver, three nights atop an open ferry deck, stars above and whales in front (…magical, but bloody freezing…), took me to the old frontier towns of Alaska’s Pacific pan-handle. There, hitching the open road, the jaw-dropping wilderness, the quirky characters, and the exhilarating freedom opened up a can of Kerouac and a crate of Grateful Dead and I was never the same again.
I was lucky then to have the opportunity to travel. Each summer brought a different place, and each place brought a different theme. In Eastern Europe, it was my ancestral roots and the Latvian shtetl of great-grandmother Minnie. In Mexico, it was about sense of place, people, food and the spirit of travel. Next-up was India, intriguing but where mortality never appeared far away: not just the perpetual impoverishment around me, but dicing with death every time I took a bus. And once I was almost swept out to sea… In Bolivia, the ethereal landscapes. In Tonga, the sense of a society so far-removed from my own. Oh, and lovely beaches. View Post