I will never forget the 27th November 2008, it was the day I handed in my MA thesis on the use of shock in the work of Sarah Kane, whilst reeling from the shock of my mother being diagnosed with a particularly aggressive form of Stage 3 breast cancer. Whilst frantically getting my thesis bound and handed in on time, I returned to the hospital with my brother as we waited for her to come out of the operating theatre having undergone a mastectomy. In the months that followed, we saw her fight the bravest battle of her life, chemotherapy, that left her bald as a baby and so desperately ill. Even now, I get tearful remembering that time and the absolute fear that we would lose her, that she would succumb to this terrible illness, or simply give up. Fortunately, my mom is one of the lucky ones and as I write this, she has just returned from her six-monthly check-up, with the wonderful news that she is still in remission, almost two years later. At the end of 2009 my mom boarded a plane (something she said she would never do), along with myself, to visit my brother in Japan. He had been in hospital and was recuperating, and needed the support of his family. As the plane took off, my mother clung to me like a life raft, closing her eyes tightly at every bit of turbulence. We arrived on Christmas night, to a wintry Japan, and my brother who was on the path to recovery despite some complications. Japan was a place of healing for us all, over the next two weeks, we forgot the anxieties of the previous year, we revelled in the new, in the now. My mom rode a bicycle for the first time in 40 years, she ate sushi, rode a bus, said Arigatou Gozaimasu (thank you). We welcomed 2010 at a temple in Kyoto, as the first snowflakes of the new year began to fall. Of the temples we visited, one of the most memorable was Todai-ji where the Daibutsuden houses one of the worlds largest Buddha, outside the temple stands another Buddha who is responsible for healing. The idea is, that you touch the Buddha and then the afflicted area and whatever your ailment, you will be healed. With or without that Buddha, my mom was already healing, Japan with its zen-calm was good for her, as it was for us all. We laughed, sang karaoke and drank plum wine, we revelled in being alive. Which brings me to this recipe, which in many ways echoes much of that temple-calm, in that it is restoring food, made from ingredients that have caused no harm, and it therefore seems an apt way to celebrate health and vitality. No, a mousse made of dates and bananas will never taste quite as decadent as one made with chocolate and cream, but I guarantee you, it is still delicious and if anything you’ll feel pure just eating it.
Vegan Chocolate Mousse
Makes 2 cups (enough for 4 small portions)
1 large handful, dried, pitted dates
3-4 large bananas or 5 small ones
1 tsp good quality vanilla extract
5oml organic maple syrup
2 heaped tbsp good quality cocoa powder
Frozen mixed berries to serve
Start by soaking the dried, pitted dates in a little warm water to soften for about 15 minutes. Drain and add to the bowl of a food processor, along with the maple syrup and vanilla. Process until smooth. Peel and mash the bananas roughly with a fork and add to the date mixture, along with the cocoa powder. Process again until smooth. This mousse is delicious with frozen berries. It will remain fresh for about 3 days in a sealed container in the fridge.