How a love of good food helped me recover from a heart transplant

7 Feb 2015 @ 12.36 pm
| Food & drink

Food writer Claire Davies is joining YorkMix, and begins by revealing where her love of good grub comes from

As a York based food and history blogger I have recently been invited to contribute my work here at YorkMix. The team have asked me to introduce myself and share how I developed such a strong passion for how, why and what we eat.

I wasn’t an enthusiastic cook until my early twenties when, at the age of 19, I happened into employment as a dishwasher assistant at a local café.

The chef made many of the menu items from scratch and, as I observed him season, taste and adjust I became hooked.

Soups, pies, batters and pasta dishes were now part of my repertoire and as I took my developing interest home I discovered the joy of cooking for family and friends.

In the same moment I was struggling to cope with an ongoing heart condition, diagnosed in my early teens and gradually deteriorating.

Eventually I returned to university and trained as an occupational therapist, hoping to assist others in engaging with those activities which gave their lives meaning and purpose.

A new heart, a new start

By 2003, I was forced to admit defeat and stop working completely due to chronic heart failure. My own quest for meaning led me to food and cookery.

If I wasn’t in the kitchen doing, I could be found listening to, watching or reading about food. We employed a care assistant and as the illness progressed, the last vestment of independence available to me was the gift of a cake or a cooked meal.

Of course, my understanding also allowed me to plan balanced meals for the household on a budget and stay as healthy as possible.

In 2009, after a number of months on the waiting list, I finally received a new heart.

As I inhabit my life as a transplant recipient, food and cookery play a stronger role than ever in maintaining my physical and emotional health.

Knowledge of inexpensive, locally sourced ingredients allows me to continue the good work I started pre transplant. I now combine my passion for eating and social history to give me a greater insight into the way diets develop and how our predecessors ate, both in times of celebration and adversity.

In writing for YorkMix I hope to encourage a passion for eating, introducing you to local producers, cafés and exciting food based projects along the way.