Celebrating great-tasting memories!
Deborah Grace interviews Helen Jack of Food Sorcery
Mention Christmas cake and I’m six years old again, wooden spoon in hand, at the little, rickety table in my Liverpool nana’s tiny kitchen. Stirring the stiff, treacly mixture in the biscuit-coloured mixing bowl, I close my eyes and make a wish...
‘We eat to stay alive, but food also brings people together,’ says Helen Jack of Didsbury-based cookery school, Food Sorcery. ‘A special occasion is always centred on food and that creates memories and the joy of spending time together.’
The power of our food memories is celebrated in FEED, an intriguing DAF project being hosted in the Food Sorcery Cookery School at the Waterside Hotel (2-4 pm, 14 May). Participants are invited to bring along a special dish and to share their recipes and the personal stories behind them.
‘One person has already told us they’re making spam fritters, so it doesn’t have to be gourmet or amazing,’ says Helen.
‘This is all about recipes that make you remember something. It might be one of those old family favourites handed down through generations, a lovely birthday meal, or a taste that takes you back in time.’
A selection of the dishes will later be served up at a series of ‘Pot Luck’ dinners, being held on 25 June (booking and tickets £6 through the DAF website) at Food Sorcery. Meanwhile, DAF artists, Ruth Bridges and Rebecca Legg, will create a piece of artwork inspired by people’s food memories, which may also provide the content of a brand new Didsbury cook book.
Open for just six months, Food Sorcery is the brainchild of three friends – Helen, Joanne Goddard, and Mark Seymour Mead - all with a passion for food. For Helen, looking for a change of direction after a long career in marketing, a family crisis showed her the way ahead.
‘Two years ago, my cousin was ill with leukaemia in The Christie Hospital. She had a sensitive stomach and needed very special food in order to recover. So, the family
and I just cooked for her every day and took the food in to her. We made lovely dishes with lots of eggs – for instance, a really great omelette filled with delicious things and avocado on the side - so we could pack the protein in. It made a phenomenal difference to her recovery; the hospital staff couldn’t believe how quickly she improved.
‘It just shows how important it is being able to cook - literally life-changing!’
And Helen’s favourite food memory?
‘Christmas 1984. I gave up meat when the Smiths brought out ‘Meat is Murder’. My poor mother! She had three of us girls and we all decided to go vegetarian. We went round to my aunt’s for that first Christmas and she cut us a turkey-sliced chunk of cheese. She had no idea what else to cook for us. So for Christmas dinner, we had all the trimmings – and just this great wodge of cheddar!’
For more details and tickets for 25 June, visit: www.didsburyartsfestival.org/feed