This last weekend was a pretty heavy one. Horrific for a lot of people, a massacre large and prominent enough to make everyone take notice. Something to spread fear, hate and grief throughout the world.
At these times, there are some things I think need to be remembered and really thought about, before opinions are formed.
A lot of people coexist with the horror that enveloped Paris on Saturday every day; fear spread by home-grown terrorists and western bombs. It's there, with them, in everything they do. That is a reality for some. And those people have no way to respond, retaliate or, often, remove themselves from situations like that. Acts of terror happen a lot more than TV networks and Twitter let on. This we should try to remember.
This situation is messy. It won't be easily solved. But I can't see how it could possibly be solved by throwing bombs. Can you really defeat terrorism by blowing people up? Didn't our parents teach us, from when we were very young, not to respond in kind? An eye for an eye will send a child to his room to think about his actions... but bombs for bombs to bring world peace? I don't know.
This organisation that claims responsibility for these anonymous acts of terror, whether they are actually responsible or not, have an agenda. And it is nothing new. Spread hatred, fear and anxiety, divide and conquer. Create us, create them. And make those groups fucking hate each other.
But there is no us and them. The 'world's first cyborg', Neil Harbisson, was born colourblind. After much collaboration and experimentation with scientists, he had an antenna implanted into his head which allows him to hear colours. And what colour are humans? Not black and white. Humans are all different shades of orange. So we are all the same on the inside, yes, but we are also variations of the same on the outside too.
There are good people and there are not so good people. And religion, race or beliefs have absolutely no bearing on that fundamental state.
There is no us and them. And the best way to stop this creeping hatred and fear? With love, kindness, respect and understanding. Judge people by who they are, intrinsically, not by the boxes they tick when filling out a form.
Don't be scared of people. Spread kindness and love. It's the best way to destabilize those trying to destabilize our humanity.
Attitudes are important. So, I think, is cake. Have you ever sat with a group of people and eaten cake miserably? I just can't picture it. So donate some stuff, do some volunteering, help out a friend, bake a cake. Spread the love, my friends.
Here is a cake with bananas and sesame because bananas, bless them, only appeal to me when they are swathed in butter, sugar and flour. And sesame. It's good.
Maybe we should throw cake at each other, instead of bombs?
BANANA, SESAME, TAHINI CAKE- adapted from the queen of baking and my first favourite cookbook, Nigella's How to be a domestic goddess.
Preheat the oven to 170c. Grease and line a 23cm round tin (or loaf tin if you want 'loaf' vibe). Combine the flour, baking powder, bicarb and salt in a bowl- I like to use a whisk.
In a large bowl mix the melted butter and sugar and beat until well combined. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then add the bananas and tahini. I use my stand mixer for this.
With a wooden spoon, stir in the nuts, nibs and vanilla. Add the flour mix a third at a time, stirring only to just combine.
Pour the mixture into your prepared tin and swirl through a little extra tahini. Sprinkle over some more nibs and some crumbled halvah.
Bake for 1-1 1/4 hours, check after forty minutes or so and give it a turn (if your oven is as crappy as mine...). A skewer inserted should come out cleanish when it's ready.
175g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarb
1/2 tsp salt
125g butter, melted
150g brown sugar
2 large eggs
300g mashed verging on over-ripe bananas (about 4 small)
60g chopped, toasted walnuts
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 tbsp tahini, plus extra
1/4 cup cacao nibs, plus extra to sprinkle
plain halvah, to sprinkle