“Food: the unifying language of the world”
quote from Sumayya Jamil, speaking at Food Blogger Connect, London 2012
Last Friday saw me quite literally stumbling onto the 7.15 Edinburgh-London train. I am not the most co-ordinated of people (I can fall off a pair of flipflops), but my flawed proprioception couldn’t be blamed on this occasion. As I attempted to board the train a sudden shift in the ever-present wind blew hair into my eyes, and I had a heart-pounding, and nearly electrifying, experience as my foot slipped between the step up and the clearly marked walkway. Still clutching my bags and cup of tea I just managed to lurch forward into the carriage, my body tingling with adrenalin that you get from a proper near-miss. Yowz.
The reason I mention this seemingly random incident is that I also experienced the same all-body tingle later that day. But not due to clumsiness or wind-whipped hair. When I pushed through the imposing blue doors into a sea of people at Food Blogger Connect I had that overwhelming ‘new girl’ feeling. You know, the heart-pumping anxiety you get when you walk into a room where everyone seems to know each other and you only have one shot at making a decent impression? I was that girl, but with fictional spots, greasy hair and a selection of slide rules and leaky pens poking out of my pocket. Yup, that nervous. Continue reading
Like a lot of you, the past few weeks have been quite busy for me. During the summer months projects, commitments and even ideas are somehow allowed to drift along on a warm breeze of school holiday-enforced hiatus. But come September the metaphorical whip is well and truly cracked. Many of you are by now up to your eyes with summer-interrupted deadlines and the daily scurry between work, family and after-school activities – and all points in-between. Maybe like me you are also vowing to shoehorn in a little extra exercise, or add in a ‘self-improving’ evening class. Time is not elastic, but we do our best to strain at the laws of physics nonetheless. I participate, therefore I am.
My additional soupcon of activity this week was giving several nutrition workshops at the 22nd annual Scottish Conference of Cancer Support Groups (SCCSG). To be completely honest with you I was not wholeheartedly looking forward to it. I am used to my cosy number with the Maggies Centres: making food and discussing nutrition and cancer in the comfort of small groups. And my ‘target’ audience is clear: for the most part those going through treatment and their carers. The SCCSG audience was going to be hugely mixed and much larger and less intimate than my usual 6-8 person groups. And in a hotel conference space, not among the architectural nuances, squashy sofas and natural light of the Maggies’ Centres. You are right, I am spoiled.
But, as is often the case with my fears, they were completely misplaced. This truly amazing conference sees delegates from all over Scotland gathering annually to update their research knowledge, share ideas, discuss common concerns and generally share and discuss ideas for helping those affected by cancer. All of the groups provide a vital service that just isn’t possible within the confines of the NHS. Every single person I met volunteers their time and skills to help others. In other words, good people. Inspiring people. Selfless people. And they wanted to listen to me. Wow. Continue reading
Today I have been busy preparing the lunch that will round off tomorrow’s nutrition session at the Edinburgh Maggie’s Centre. Although I really enjoy facilitating the sessions, I also love to prepare the food. I love the rhythm of trawling around the local shops, picking up and sniffing the produce (sometimes indulging in a sneaky squeeze), chatting to the merchants and shop assistants, and just generally taking my time getting the best of the day’s offerings. Sometimes I make do with just a supermarket (boring but expedient), but I also try and get to the lushly fronted greengrocers’ shops in nearby Stockbridge, stopping by Armstrong’s for immaculate, fresh fish for our dinner. As a special treat (or if I am under-budget)I head to Earthy Market in Newington for the most sumptuous whole foods displays in Edinburgh: baskets of amazing breads (seaweed sourdough is Miss R’s favourite), a Welsh dresser full of pulses, seeds and grains, shelves of every ingredient you can think of for the well-stocked pantry, and captivatingly gorgeous wooden crates of best-of-season fruits and vegetables from nearby Phantassie Organic Farm and other quality suppliers. But, if I am honest, I am also there for the cafe. Can’t recommend it highly enough (and neither can the reviewers). Not only is the daily-changing menu a testament to fine seasonal cafe fare, it is presented so lovingly and at a price that puts lesser-quality cafes and restaurants to shame. Please go if you live even vaguely nearby. You can also buy top-notch local vegetables, herbs and decorative plants to plant your own personal oasis of useful beauty. If you go on my recommendation, tell them food to glow sent you.