Greenbelt and a Change in Direction

Greenbelt and a Change in Direction

Today I’m branching out of recipe writing and so instead I’ve got a post on my recent experience at Greenbelt which has inspired me to take this blog in a new direction. (Quick heads up – the photos in this post aren’t great quality as they were taken on my ipod and not my camera!) For those of you who haven’t come across Greenbelt before it’s a festival at Boughton House in Kettering, traditionally with Christian roots, that is very egalitarian and liberal. Throughout the course of the bank holiday weekend there is a whole range of live music, theatre, art, demonstrations, workshops, poetry, dance, talks, and of course food, all themed around liberation, equality, solidarity, and community. It sounds pretty unconventional as far as most festivals go, but it’s genuinely so lovely as there’s something for absolutely everyone and everyone is so nice!

Several of months ago my god mother was asked to lead a new venue called ‘The Table’, and she asked me to join her on the team. The venue hosted a whole range of chefs focusing on different issues and topics who did really interesting live cooking demonstrations. Our job, as the venue hosts, was to help out the chefs, prep the ingredients and (of course) do the washing up.  I found this so much fun as being so close to all these amazing chefs and seeing how they each use their food to deliver a message or to fight for a cause was really inspiring!

For example, there was one chef, Pheobe Rison, who was from Palestine and was using her food as a way of keeping her Palestinian roots and culture alive, even though she herself had had her Palestinian citizenship taken away from her due to the current political unrest in the country. Her delicious food, combined with her heartfelt stories and the motivation driving her was really moving. I also met lots of other amazing chefs like Jack Monroe, author of Cooking on a Bootstrap, who writes budget for recipes those living on low incomes and for those who have to use foodbanks, and Brett Cobley (aka epivegan) who gave a really interesting demo on vegan cooking. These were really amazing examples of how food can be so much more than just pretty photos on Instagram, and it all made me think about my own cooking and the message I want to give out.

For a while now I’ve felt that it’s time for me to specialise this blog and to make it more than just a bunch of recipes, but it’s taken until now for me to nail down what it is I want to say through my food.  Mental health awareness and support is an issue that has long been very close to my heart. As someone who suffers with mental health problems herself, not to mention knowing lots of other people with mental health issues, I’m really keen on getting people to talk openly about mental health problems and I’d love to use my food to help with this.

It’ll still be me writing the posts and I’ll still be posting recipes that I’ve developed, so you can expect the same kind of food to keep coming (ie my sweet tooth will be going no where!). However, I will also be focusing on dishes that are nutritious, comforting, quick and/or easy (to suit those who are going through a bout of depression and so on) and to acknowledge my own mental health issues through what I’m cooking. For instance I often don’t feel up to writing and I frequently don’t even want to cook or eat, but rather than covering up these times in my life with dishes I made back when I was feeling more stable and putting on a happy front, I’d rather show what I do like to make when I’m going through a bad time, to show support for others who might be going through something similar.

This is a new direction for Cocoa and Thyme and so I understand that this new idea/drive behind my blog might not be for everyone. I’m choosing, however, to take on this new angle in order to be more open and to promote a message that means a lot to me, and I’m hoping that this will be helpful to some people. I’ve got a month of already prepped recipes to post so I’ll get on with those, but after that I’ll start focusing more on mental health well-being and support through my food. I’ll be writing up a more coherent aim for the blog in my bio over the next couple of days, so if this is a bit too much of a ramble for you to decipher give that a read when it comes out! (I will also be changing the name of the blog at some point so keep an eye out for that!)

Thanks for reading! Please let me know what you think of this change in direction, feedback is always valued (providing it’s constructive) and I’d love to hear from you!

Emma x

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