A few years ago, the cure to breast cancer was found: cryptic status updates on Facebook. Remember having a newsfeed full of references to moving to another country, the colour of someone’s underwear, the place where a handbag was kept in the home? Men were not supposed to know what these statuses were referencing – after all, nothing raises awareness like a status that excludes half of the population. And no illnesses need publicity quite as much as cancer, that little-known disease that hardly affects anyone at all.
At least the latest trend (selfies of women not wearing any make-up, for anyone who has somehow managed to miss it) has done away with the cryptic part. And it seems like there’s some vague assumption that if you post the selfie you then donate to Cancer Research, who apparently had a good day as a result. But still, I despair of the arbitrary nature of it: what does this selfie have to do with finding a cure for cancer? A bit of research showed that the point is supposed to be that in the time a woman spends doing her make-up in the morning, she could easily check her breasts for signs of cancer, but I have not seen anybody sharing that information, nor any links to charity donation pages.
And it’s not only arbitrary but insulting to women, because its very existence suggests that sharing a picture in which you are not wearing make up is a BIG DEAL which should be applauded. Er, really? I find it quite telling that the majority of these posts that popped up in my newsfeed were accompanied by comments along the lines of, “Well, I hardly wear make up anyway, but here you go.” I’m glad the cryptic element has been ditched, but could the next round please be more relevant to the cause and empowering to women? And, come to think of it, inclusive to men. A simple link to a cancer charity and information on how to check yourself out for lumps would suffice.
Anyway, it seems like money was raised for a good cause, so I suppose all’s well in the end. Entering into the spirit of things, I will share a recipe with a whole bulb of garlic in it: research has found that garlic may have a positive effect in cases of lung and brain tumours. And as an added bonus, it keeps vampires at bay.
This soup is just as good without the croutons and drizzle, if you’re in a hurry and want to keep things simple.
Split Pea Soup
Serves 4, from Vegan Secret Supper
1 bulb garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp rapeseed oil
1 onion, chopped
2 tsp dried thyme
2 tbsp white wine
800ml vegetable stock
2 tsp white wine vinegar
200g split peas
1 bay leaf
For the croutons:
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 slices bread
For the coconut drizzle:
4 tbsp coconut milk
handful mint leaves, roughly chopped
1. Preheat the oven to 220C. Roast the garlic first. Slice off the top of the bulb to expose the individual cloves. Create a little basket of foil around it and pour in the olive oil. Scrunch up the foil to seal the bulb in.
2. Roast in the oven for 25 minutes. Peel the cloves (the garlic pretty much just pops out) and set aside the oil for the croutons.
3. Heat the rapeseed oil in a large pan and fry the onion over medium heat for about 7 minutes.
4. Add the garlic cloves and thyme and cook for another minute.
5. Splash in the wine and let it bubble for a minute more.
6. Add the stock, white wine vinegar, split peas and bay leaf. Bring to the boil.
7. Simmer for 30 minutes until the split peas are tender.
8. While the soup is simmering, prepare the croutons: mix the retained garlic oil and cumin seeds. Season with salt and pepper. Toss the cubes of bread in the oil, then spread them out on a baking tray. Cook for 5 minutes on each side at 180C.
9. And make the coconut drizzle too: blend the coconut milk and mint leaves in a blender until smooth.
10. Returning to the soup: remove the bay leaf, add seasoning and blend the soup. You might want to add a bit of water to thin it out.
11. Serve the soup with a drizzle of coconut and a smattering of croutons.