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"This would be a recipe to convert anyone who thinks celery is boring." Bee Wilson

Well if you can persuade them to try it in the first place. I speak from experience here -and I have a worrying feeling that I have been here before - but never mind, the world is full of repetition and loss of memory.

The recipe is Sweet and sour celery salad from Ixta Belfrage's amazingly wonderful book Mezcla. I made it quite some time ago now as a side dish at a family barbecue. Believe me when I say that it was absolutely delicious, but also believe me when I say that maybe only two or three of us - out of 11 or 13 - tried it.

I began today's blog thought process with the idea of doing something quick - perhaps just a piece on a particular recipe, and for some reason this one popped into my head. Besides it was also a vegetable side dish, and I also remembered that I had decided at one point to start an incidental series on vegetable sides. I think I've done one so far.

I was going out for the day you see, so did not have much time to write. However, I soon discovered that the day out was looking impossible because our train line is undergoing work and so the journey to the city and back would have been horrendous. Eventually the date with friend was cancelled, and so I had more time.

At which point I started veering towards another title - "Possibilities', because I started thinking about dinner for tonight - and those pickled onions. But that's a rather larger concept I think and I'm feeling lazy. Maybe when I've actually done something with them.

So I went back to my original title 'A recipe', in the hope of persuading you to have a go. Then I remembered that when I had made it had been a flop. Which led me to change my title to 'Persuasion'.

And now I have come to a complete stop. What can you say? How do you persuade people to try something they don't want to try? I see I wrote a note at the side of the recipe saying "some declined because it was celery". The 'some' included adults as well as children I might add. And it was celery. It was family so they are not as polite as friends about trying stuff. I guess if you served it up at a dinner as the vegetable side dish then it would have been eaten. You can't make reluctant teenagers, and opinionated adults at a family barbecue try something they don't fancy, even if there hadn't been alternatives.

Of course one trick with things that people don't like is to hide them - like my aunt did with that spinach long, long ago. If you mix them with other things and purée them nobody will notice. I found somebody else had tried another of her recipes - Charred red pepper sauce with omelette noodles and fed it to her children who had loved it even though they did not like peppers.

Well you might not know if you don't have taste buds that recognise these things. I mean I sometimes hide anchovies in tomato sauces from David and he doesn't notice, even though he claims to be a super taster.

It was quite easy for me to decide to have a go at cooking it for several reasons, even though I too am not a huge fan of celery. I generally see it as one of those things that adds to other things rather than needing to be celebrated in its own right. So why should I choose to make this?

I think I had celery in the fridge which is one good reason - a bunch of celery can be made into a number of different things. It's large, so you need to use it. It sounded an interesting recipe - I think I had recently bought the book - "So crazy we had to try it" said the author of NBD Fancy. And there's a part of me which would have thought the same. Crazy? - well certainly a whole range of ingredients you don't usually associate with celery - raisins, pine nuts, soy sauce, maple syrup, chilli - but nothing so crazy that it couldn't be considered. And I was looking for a different salad to the usual. And it looked good in the picture, and I will say in an attempt at modesty, that it looked pretty good on my plate as well. And as you know by now I'm a sucker for a pretty picture.

There was also Ixta Belfrage's own note at the head of the recipe: "one of our team's favourite recipes when we shot the book." And certainly when I'm in an adventurous mood I like to try new things.

Maybe if it had been the only vegetable choice? No I don't think so. Teenagers are quite willing to go without the vegetables. Even the vegetarians - sort of.

I will certainly try this dish again. It was absolutely delicious or as Emily Nunn on a website called The Department of Salad says:

"It turns your perception of celery on its head and makes you appreciate the vegetable all over again."

But I sort of give up. I've never been good at making anybody try things they didn't want to try. Their loss I can say, but it's mine too. I went to the bother of making it, gave it 4 stars - probably not 5 because others didn't like it, and I was disappointed.

Do buy Meczla if you haven't already. It's just bursting with ideas, from a young cook whose favourite ingredients are:

"Dried habanero chillies, limes, tangerines, olive oil, miso, soy sauce, tomato paste, maple syrup, parmesan."

Which may well give you an idea of what to expect. And you can always leave out the chillies. I've made quite a few things now but there are many more I want to try. Now can I persuade you to try and buy? It's a whole new world of cooking.


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