A couple of weeks ago my housemate and I were talking about the 'funniest' ways people break the ice on dates. Her go to: "if you could describe your personality in a sandwich, what would you be?" In case, you’re wondering I’d be a Boots hoisin duck wrap. A little bit questionable, but spend some time with it and, on some level, you'll start to get along with that jacked-up, jammy sweetness.
Big sandwich-related questions finished off and one housemate suitably offended (turns out it’s not on to joke that they’d be a joyless, faux-turkey Christmas sandwich...), we moved on to the other big contender: "If someone offered you £1 million, but you had to give up one of your senses forever, what would it be and why?"
A little less fun, this one. Quite dark, actually. But if you were going to go full Ariel in The Little Mermaid, what would you pick? Would you even do it? It’s all hypothetical, but one thing is for sure, my sense of taste would not be the one I’d give up in a hurry. Imagine not being able to taste the milky foam on your morning coffee or the claggy richness of peanut butter as you spoon it straight from the jar to your mouth? That’s not just inconvenient, it’s joyless. And for some people, it’s not just an imaginary situation – it’s an everyday reality.
About two years ago my mum's best friend was diagnosed breast cancer. This willowy, six-foot Serbian with the best hugs and kindest smile found a lump and, well, you know the score. She's now in the clear, but for a whole year she couldn't taste anything.
Even though up to 80% of chemotherapy patients notices a change, losing your sense of taste one is one of the lesser talked about sides of chemotherapy. Maybe that's because other side effects can be much more serious, but that's not to say it's no less isolating. One food luminary is, however, trying to change all that. Four years ago, Ryan Riley [pictured] lost his mother Krista to small-cell lung cancer. He set up Life Kitchen in her memory: it’s a charity offering free UK-wide cookery classes and food events for people living with cancer, and in the space of eight months Riley has already worked with over 400 people. Right now he’s trying to raise enough money to give his classes a permanent home.
With the likes of Nigella and Sue Perkins behind him, his bid to start Life Kitchen Cookery School is doing well, but a little more help never hurt anyone. Readers, we know how much you love food (hint: you’re reading a food magazine), so before you flip open that dating app and rinse my housemate’s line for all it’s got, why not pay a quick visit to gofundme.com/lifekitchen1 and give Life Kitchen a little helping hand? Even a small amount will make a huge difference to people dealing with the big C.