Food for Thought

I was surprised to read a story in The Guardian this morning about legislation that has been passed in France, making it illegal for supermarkets to dispose of, or purposely spoil, surplus or out of date food. The forced act of goodwill will see supermarkets signing contracts with charities to distribute the otherwise wasted food. I think this is a great idea but a sad indictment of human nature and corporations that it has to be passed as law. The story reminded me of a poem I wrote inspired by Jean-François Millet’s The Gleaners, as well as my experiences while working at a Franprix (supermarket chain) in Paris some years ago (maybe another blog post with that story). Finishing my night shift at the supermarket, it wasn’t unusual to see people who didn’t fit the stereotype of needy or homeless rummaging through bins which overflowed with dairy produce that had passed a day or two over their best before warning, bread that had gone crusty, tomatoes that were ripe to the point of almost bursting and bananas that save for the dark brown patches, would have otherwise been edible. Well, I guess even the dark brown patches are edible when you are hungry. Anyway, I was glad to see the story and thought I’d also mention a great documentary I watched some years back on the very topic – The Gleaners and I by Agnes Varda (first four minutes below). I loved the interesting characters Varda revealed and the de-stigmatisation of surviving on what most of society deems as trash, while also highlighting the glut of food produced and wasted while so many people go hungry.


First published 23 May 2015.



Image of cupcakes on a tier wth white creme topping used as a prompt for a flash fiction story
Photo by Stephanie McCabe

Proposal, ring, dress, venue, invitations, flowers, hair and makeup, photographer, seating arrangements, navigating family politics- a never-ending to-do list along the well-trodden path espoused by wedding planners, magazines, her girlfriends who’d gone before her, and of course, her mother.

Looking through the tiered treats at the smiling faces, giddy from champagne and sugar, she wondered whether this milestone, her bridal shower, was going to be the one, the last hurdle before she has the guts to call the whole thing off and throw herself off the trajectory she’d been riding on autopilot.

The call was getting harder with growing expectations and mounting debt; sighing, she took another cupcake, after all, there was another fitting to accommodate fluctuations between now and then.


Written in response to Sonya’s Three Line Tales, Week 20. It’s a fun challenge- Sonya has a knack for selecting beautiful photos that inspire so many different stories. Half the fun is reading what others come up with – join in if you have time!

Me,Peaches and Sally

Welcome to week 3 of the 10 week series of time travel posts. Click on the image above, to be transported! Watch your head on that tumbleweed, and mind the gap!

This week’s edition completes a trifecta of writings inspired by art. Here, I present a modern day take on Jean-François Millet’s The Gleaners. I also wrote on the topic in this post.

If you’d like to continue your travels through the tumbleweed, check out the menu item of the same name for others in the series.

For Pho’s Sake

Photographs by Richard Baxter.

I owe it to Martha Goes Green, a recipe book like no other.

Most dishes have been worth the time and care to follow to the letter, until familiarity bred improvisation and I threw caution out of the pot, to create dishes of my own.

Mushroom risotto, carrot and lentil soup, pea and feta frittatas, but none has embedded into our lives, requiring no tweaking, like the vegetarian pho. A glance at the ingredients on first go read like a who’s who of the spice world. Writing the shopping list gave me cramps- it read longer than flash fiction.

Peeling, chopping, counting out pieces- the preparation was a meditation in beauty, as I composed a still life of cinnamon sticks, shallots, star anise, ginger, garlic, cardamon and cloves that spoke of goodness, an abundance of sensory delights. Continue reading

Memories in a Meal


My childhood is marked by a huge figurative line in my memory- before and after, there and here, two countries, with life defining experiences divided between Ethiopia, my country of birth and Sydney, Australia, where I spent most of my childhood. They were two worlds that I could never quite believe truly existed when I was in the “other”. While in Addis Ababa, I knew of that foreign, far away place where my parents lived, and I used to make up a language that I imagined they spoke there, a land so distant that I’d figured would require a pretty long bus trip to get there. It may as well have been the moon.

Once in Australia, aged 6, as my thoughts were quickly filled with the colours, smells and faces of my new home, my old home became fragmented in my memory, as foreign to me as Sydney had once been. The magic of doro wet, my favourite childhood meal was what reconciled my two homes. It was the smell and taste that made my memory whole. The beautifully rich chicken sauce, which is cooked slowly and lovingly, was the highlight of any celebration. Even my now pescatarian self can think back on the flavours and crave the succulent, tender chicken that easily breaks off the bone, to be picked up in a morsel with a small, torn piece of spongy, sour injera, wrapped expertly together with a mopping of sauce and a broken piece of hard boiled egg, eaten with a true appreciation of every single mouthful. Continue reading