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Taking part in FAST FOR THE CLIMATE as a food blogger and food activist.

“I will  to feel rooted in community united in solemnity, activism, steadfast facing of evolving emergency.” — and so I tweeted…

On the Cover of the Rolling Stone– I mean — on the back pages of the Guardian Online.  I’m excited to be featured in the Guardian’s online Sustainable Blog of the Week this week.  I like the company I’m keeping and feel grateful for the new followers: Welcome!  And thank you to the editor Katherine Purvis for being really tolerant of my incapacities  sending photographs through e-mail, and for including me in her collection.

Katherine sent me a set of questions to answer, and this forms the basis of the interview.  She’s edited that, for reasons of space, but I like some of what I said and have included the longer version below if anyone is interested.

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Dear Slow Food friends, 

One of us has been killed in Gaza.

His name, Emad Asfour.

Here’s what Slow Food founder, Carlo Petrini wrote.

As for me:

One power it would seem is to use my social media and blogging to express a strong conviction that the methods and outcome of Israeli military might in Gaza, and Palestine, is definitively wrong.  And encourage others to do the same.

I didn’t know Emad Asfour, but when someone dies– killed by a bomb– and that someone shares things with you, you grieve.

I have tried to think through what’s happening in Gaza this past month through the lens of a cookbook called The Gaza Kitchen, and the work of Zaytoun, a Fair-Trade local-produce company working to ensure UK markets for Palestinian produce.

Through all the death, destruction, carnage, uprooting– I’m also thinking a little about the small gardens people plant, the rabbits, the bakeries, the aquaculture ponds, the trees they nurture– lots of these projects are likely destroyed too.  Aspects of daily life, daily eating, daily growing, daily hope.   Underneath rubble.

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Spicy Pumpkin Vinegar, made from pulps I could have thrown out.  A glorious enzymatic condiment for brightening, souring, finishing and … drinking!  Pumpkin Scrap-cum-Vinegar plus Fermented Chilli Pepper Skins is a match made in heaven…  or Upcycling Kitchen-Counter-Culture paradise, at least…

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Once upon a time we carved a pumpkin for Halloween, and instead of roasting the seeds, I fermented them for a scrap vinegar.  This is such an easy thing to do.  Cover your fruit scraps

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I cried yesterday. I cried reading about the death of Samar Al-Hallaq and her two little boys, and how she was pregnant. Through this siege of Gaza I’ve seen pictures of people fleeing and children in hospital and lots of gruesome horrendous imagery. This death touches me extra somehow. A mother. Two little boys. Pregnant. Working with embroidery. The details made this woman particular for me; I felt her death as a personal loss.

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.…in which Kitchencounterculture explores local food, locavorism, veganism, climate impacts of diet, and A MASSIVE LIST OF RABBIT RECIPES from a really great collection of cookbooks…

In my freezer are two rabbits, which a local man, H,  the getting-elderly but still a-hunting brother of a friend, had in his freezer.  For £3 each it was hardly a sale but rather an exchange.  “Cook it like a chicken,” he advised, and told me he’d cut it in seven pieces: two back legs, 2 front legs, two middle bits and a “bonnet” (the ribs).  He recommended I “casserole” it: fry the pieces in a pan with carrots and onions, then tip it in a roasting tin with gravy, or wine, or beer.

My friend, H’s brother P, said H would have hung it for a few hours after bringing it  home (probably this time with a ferret not a rifle — I didn’t think to ask but will, and will update here), then gutted it, then hung it again for a few days before skinning and putting it into parts.  These are men who’s childhoods would have been 70 years ago.  H remembers his mother Sybyl roasting rabbit very plainly, but she would never eat anything wild herself, though duck was also on the menu for these country children of mid-Wales back then.

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From Claudia Roden’s The Book of Jewish Food, I made Torta di Erbe, translated as “Green Tart,” which somehow tickled my funny-bone. It’s a Roman tart, she says, and also known as “Pizza Ebraica” (Jewish pizza).

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SHARING THE LOVE…

My first child’s first food, as a newborn, was donated breast milk, and I’ll always be grateful she had such a great first start. Huge gratitude to that generous woman in the breastfeeding room (ha!) of the hospital; she sat there pumping her milk into little plastic bottles that went into the fridge there for the use of whoever needed it.  It took me a couple of weeks to get my proper flow going.

This is a thrilling story, the first Human Baby Milk Bank in North India.

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“Gaza death toll rises above 200, Israel suffers first casualty.”  That’s the first news that comes up on my screen. Pretty awful times in Palestine and Israel too right now, the airstrikes and deaths and destruction, and the terrible racist rhetoric, and lots of violence against anti-occupation Jewish activists as well.  And the sirens and anxiety in Israel itself.

Peaceful people watching this situation are anguished — ones who can imagine different scenarios of justice and resolution and a politics that recognises multiple points of view.  Might does not make Right.  But Might can demand an echoing vengeance of trauma through generations, through the souls of people who lose loved ones, family, friends, properties, trees, gardens, homes– and turn that despair into revenge and rage, or not.

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I have started an occasional project to film peoples’ hands when they talk about food and cooking.  I’ve only posted one so far, but there are more to come.

Today I was chatting with a friend and suddenly noticed her hands– three fingers on each one and knobs of bones and some tales of failures by surgeons. She is 75, beautiful, a free spirit, a collector of wool who crochets mad Log Cabin patterns, a guitar player, a cook, a fermenter.

Her mother had had one finger on each hand. Her grandmother had had a job in the 1920’s in a watch factory, hand-painting numbers on watch faces with night-luminous Radium paint; to get a sharp nib, she’d form the paintbrush into a point in her mouth between dabs. Read the rest of this entry »

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