You can learn a lot about a person by their daily rituals. Do they drink hot water and lemon first thing? Meditate? Or dash out the door with wet hair and an empty stomach? Our newest series takes a look inside the habits of individuals who are continually inspiring us with the rituals that characterise their daily routines - from eating and drinking to bathing and skincare.
First in the series is our London Fields neighbour and Glasshouse regular, Farid Fakhre. Obsessed with food and spotted more often than not in the local Vietnamese supermarket, Farid’s understanding of nutrition and grasp of Asian cooking has influenced everything from his bookshelves to his kitchen cupboards. And whilst there’s no doubt he’s a foodie, Farid’s also adept at blurring the lines between what he eats and what he puts on his skin and hair - an ethos we’re wholly on board with.
We spent a sunny winter’s morning in Farid’s park-facing home, admiring his crockery and tasting his food. An advocate of preservation and fermentation, Farid’s mealtime rituals are often ones that involve several weeks stewing in a Mason jar.
“Because I live on my own I like to cook things that last” he told us, “Which is why I’m into the fermentation thing.” A technique that’s sustainable, soothing and restorative.
Farid’s homemade kimchi is integral to a mushroom and rice dish he served up with chopsticks in earthenware bowls.
“I use wood ear mushrooms that I get from the Vietnamese shop in Hackney” he says “They need rehydrating by soaking them in water for about 15 minutes and then boiling for two. I add vinegar, chilli flakes, spring onions and furikake seasoning” (a dry Japanese seasoning that typically consists of dried and ground fish, sesame seeds, seaweed, sugar and salt).
Mushrooms prepped, Farid serves them alongside some sprouted brown and red rice, braised kombu and his lovingly prepared red-coloured kimchi. Yum. Packed full of probiotics, Farid uses kimchi to help ease digestion and strengthen the immune system.
He applies the same thought process to what he drinks. “I’m not a fan of drinking water on its own” he told us, and so one of Farid’s daily drinking rituals involves another probiotic staple - water kefir. Made with water kefir grains, the drink is ultimately a pimped-up probiotic version of water, with the grains consisting of bacteria and yeast and having a similar, settling effect on the gut to kimchi.
“I make up a big batch of water kefir in the morning and drink it throughout the day if I’m at home.” And for a slight twist, Farid combines his with a little acidity in the form of lime juice or strawberry drinking vinegar and a spoonful of chia seeds for a refreshing water kefir chia fresca.
“You can add in anything else from cayenne pepper, spirulina, matcha or chlorella to enhance the taste and health benefits” he says.
Set on the top floor of a Victorian house overlooking London Fields, Farid’s home is about as soul-soothing and unique as the food and drink he conjures up. Filled with a mishmash of beautiful belongings and notebooks packed with handwritten recipes, it’s testament to his curious nature and far-flung travels to the likes of Japan, Thailand and his home country of Grenada.
When it comes to looking after his skin and hair, we’d be more than happy to indulge in some self-nourishment in Farid’s peaceful space. For a weekly face mask, it’s back to the water kefir - this time stirred slowly into a bowl with some matcha powder (known for its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties).
“I’ve been on sheet masks in a big way recently. I buy the cotton ones from Muji and rehydrate them in the mixture to use as a sheet mask” he tells us, as we soak one in a bowl propped on his bathroom windowsill.
We’ve long been a fan of the use of matcha for skincare - take our toxin-fighting raw honey and matcha mask - and Farid is also a self-confessed matcha convert: “It’s great to get rid of dark circles because the caffeine stimulates blood circulation in the face.”
One final ritual that Farid saves especially for dry-hair spells and evenings in, is a nourishing hair mask filled with freshly-shaved cocoa butter, honey, avocado oil and carragheen - a form of seaweed.
“I use carragheen because it’s a humectant which forms a film over the hair, giving flexibility but also helping bind the other ingredients together.”
Mixed with honey, a dash of avocado oil and cocoa butter, this is a rich, intensive mask - ideal for Farid’s full head of curls. We’d even recommend leaving it on overnight for deep nourishment.
After a languid morning spent with Farid and our brains feeling suitably full of knowledge, it’s time to depart. When it comes to busy lives and packed schedules, it’s easy to sacrifice time spent indulging in daily rituals in favour of fitting yet more stuff into our day. But when life is hectic, this time is more important than ever. Our little rituals shape who we are - and we think there’s no better book to take a leaf out of than Farid’s.
Words: Lucy Vincent
Images: Rosie Herdman for Glasshouse Journal