Belfast Telegraph

Fionola Meredith: Gerry Adams' cookbook is simply another attempt to spin the history of IRA terrorism

Forget the 'peas process', Fionola Meredith finds the former Sinn Fein leader's nostalgic recipes deeply distasteful

Oh, the laughs Gerry Adams has given us with his book of republican recipes. Social media is awash with suggested titles: 'Give Peas A Chance', 'The Good Fryday Cookbook', 'Cookie Ar La', and many more.

Boom boom.

Someone even suggested 'When Hunger Strikes', which I think most people would agree is in very bad taste indeed.

The eagerly-awaited publication, which promises to reveal the recipes that sustained the Sinn Fein negotiating team through the long days and nights of the peace process, will actually be called 'The Negotiators' Cook Book', and it will be out in time for Christmas.

Forget Nigella or Delia or Jamie Oliver, this new cookery book by Adams and Co will be the essential kitchen bible to guide you through the entire festive season. For instance, I'm dying to learn what former volunteer Gerry Kelly does with a week's worth of left-over turkey. What exactly was the traditional IRA way back in the day? Curry? Rissoles? Some kind of cold terrine? I've simply got to know.

We're renowned for our dark humour here, it helped to get us through some horrendous times in the past, and of course there are endless jokes, puns and memes to be made and enjoyed on this topic.

But once we've giggled ourselves sick, can we stop and think how utterly, head-meltingly bizarre it is that one of the prime apologists for terrorism in the 20th century is writing a book about tasty things to eat?

What next? 'Farc It Up: A Culinary Tour Of Colombia'?

Or 'All You Can ETA: Authentic Finger-Food From The Basque Country'?

Sorry, I really will stop now.

The reality is that Gerry Adams has pulled off one of the most consummate jobs in PR management of all time. The scale of it beggars belief. He has not only erased the IRA's role in the Troubles from large sections of the public consciousness, he has also convinced many people that he is, in fact, a cuddly, eccentric and genial old grandad who likes nothing better than playing with his toy ducks in the bath and bouncing in the nude with his dog on the garden trampoline.

He's just a harmless, caring, progressive, good-hearted man, who also happens to be a fan of the poet and civil rights champion Maya Angelou. What a darling.

This weird cook book is merely the latest episode in a long vanity process of revisionism, selective editing and blatant self-mythologising by Mr Adams, which often seems to be deployed strategically as a convenient distraction from awkward political issues.

Speaking of which, if Jeremy Corbyn had any sense, he'd be on the phone to his old chum right now, getting advice on how to defuse the anti-Semitism row within the Labour Party. Corbyn is known to enjoy making his own fruit preserves. Perhaps he could author a tribute volume of recipes, 'Jez's Jams', in honour of his good, good friends in the Jewish community?

I think the most astute observation I've ever read about the former SF president was by the Irish novelist John Banville. Writing after the IRA ceasefire in 1994, Banville said: "Gerry Adams is obviously a clever and able man, but as a writer I think it behoves those people dealing with him to read his short stories, where one sees the streak of sentimentality that marks the totalitarian mind."

Likewise, there looks to be more than a hint of saccharine sentimentality in this new recipe book. It's yet another attempt to portray cultish republicans as ordinary, normal, decent people with hearty appetites and a generous approach to life, unlike the cold, parsimonious Brits who, according to Adams "never fed us" and "never had any food". It's a cynical manipulation by a practised manipulator, and his sleight of hand is so professional that many people never even see him performing the trick.

As an inveterate reader of books about food, I resent this mawkish incursion on to such pleasurable territory. It's not just about what to eat for dinner - the best writers know that food, and how we feed people, is a fundamental affirmation of human existence.

In their brilliant book, 'Life Is Meals', the writers James and Kay Salter say: "The meal is the essential act of life. It is the habitual ceremony, the long record of marriage, the school for behaviour, the prelude to love…the meal is the emblem of civilisation. What would one know of life as it should be lived, or nights as they should be spent, apart from meals?"

By contrast, Gerry Adams' cook book sounds too sweet to be wholesome, as well as almost too bonkers to be true. Either way, I don't buy it.

Belfast Telegraph

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