This week I have eaten out twice with different sets of friends.on each occasion I had soup: French onion soup on the first occasion and mushroom soup on the second. At this time of year, with cold weather creeping in, soup is the right kind of comfort food. At a pinch you can wrap yourself in a blanket and have your soup in a mug rather than in a bowl at the table.
Zoe Williams was writing about the best health food in he Guardian the other day. Forget all the fancy stuff, according to Zoe Williams it comes down to three things: soup garlic and cake.
I have a recipe somewhere that combines the first two of those: a garlic soup which is very good for you. I once long ago made it when I was teaching French to catering students. The soup had nothing to do with the course. It’s simply that the following day, as the students filed into the classroom, one after another they asked, not to me but to the room in general, “Has someone been eating garlic?” Actually I suspect that it was not so much the eating of the soup that did it but the number of garlic cloves I peeled and handled in the making of it. I did not admit to the students that it might be me.
Garlic is good for you though. The aforementioned garlic soup is a good cold cure and apparently garlic is an anti-inflammatory, so it’s good for arthritis, among other things.
Zoe Williams tells this story of her mother and garlic:
“My mother once read that you could apply it directly to get rid of a verruca, which she did. But it got into her bloodstream and made her smell so profoundly of garlic that she thought we had a gas leak and actually called British Gas. That is a 100% true story.”
She might say it is 100% true but I suspect a little journalistic exaggeration!
Anyway, soup! Lots of jokes are made about chicken soup and its restorative qualities. It seems there was even a study in 2000 on the benefits of chicken soup. The study used the Lithuanian recipe of the reports’s author’s grandmother so maybe there was some bias there. However, the study found that chicken soup inhibited the migration of neutrophils, which are the commonest white blood cells fighting infection, so maybe there is some science behind it after all, or some scientific-sounding terminology at any rate.
I suspect that cake comes into the mix because of the old adage of feeding a cold - or is it a fever? - and the instinct we all have to sit down and eat sweet stuff when we feel out of sorts.
One last point on garlic: someone told me long ago that garlic is good for protecting against vampires and other forces of evil. Maybe we need some supplies at the moment with all sorts if odd shenanigans going on in the political sphere.
Which brings me to a question: are we surprised that they Conservatives have received more in donations than the other parties?
According to one source of information about the general election 2019, In the first week of the campaign the Conservatives got £5.7m in large donations which is 26 times as much as Labour from rich donors. This is in donations above £7,500, which are the ones that have to be declared. Labour has been getting just £218,500.
The conservatives get theirs from supermarket tycoons, billionaires and the like. More than half of the donations declared by Labour were from the trade union Unite, whose general secretary Len McCluskey is one of the party's most powerful figures.
Of course, they are all supposed to face the same restrictions as to how much they can spend but it must be a lot easier to bet your campaigning organised if the money is coming in in lots of big chunks instead of in dribs and drabs.
And as we listen to all the promises, we should think of this Turkish proverb, passed on to me by a friend:
“The forest was shrinking, but the trees kept voting for the Axe, for the Axe was clever and convinced the trees that because his handle was made of wood, he was one of them.”