I first came across Jack Monroe last summer and was drawn to her no-nonsense and humorous approach to life and survival in the face of overwhelming odds, not least those created by a government hell-bent on demonising single mothers, the poor, the unemployed and the most vulnerable, at the same time as cutting benefits to a level that makes survival all but impossible.
Jack’s fame began to spread through the excellence of her blog and the help her budget recipes were providing for so many. In May 2013, she won the judges’ choice award at the Fortnum & Mason food awards. One of the reasons they gave was that her recipes are “so nutritious and thrifty that they are being handed out by food banks as examples of how to manage on next to nothing”.
In July, she was interviewed by The Guardian, which is probably the point at which I discovered her: ‘Poverty, almost paradoxically, gave her a voice,’ writes Patrick Butler. Soon after, she and her recipes became the target of Richard Littlejohn’s venom. The unscrupulous journalist (yes, the Daily Wail is his employer) described her as the Left’s ‘poverty poster girl’ and disparaged her use of dried pasta and kale in cooking as though she were a fraud because “those whom the Guardianistas disdain as ‘ordinary people’ don’t eat pasta – they eat spaghetti out of tins. Most of them will have never heard of kale, let alone eaten it”. Please! Jack wrote a spirited riposte which was published in The Guardian, for whom she now writes a food column, and deservedly so.
If Jack’s face is familiar on a national scale today, it is because she is part of Sainsburys’ 2014 television campaign. All power to her elbow. I, for one, salute her. Her first cookery book is being published next month by Michael Joseph: A Girl Called Jack: 100 delicious budget recipes.
Have yourself a cheaper little Christmas: Honey roasted ham with veg, £1.53
First published in the Guardian and G2 magazine: Jack Monroe’s budget Christmas. As always, all prices based on Sainsburys and Sainsburys Basics range where available. Similar products available at most leading supermarkets.
Take care and keep laughing!
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