“It is like sunshine in a bowl”
Blindingly Good Food blogger and champion cyclist, Lora Fachie, on living with sight loss, creativity in the kitchen and the sensory experience of cooking with spices
I was born with a hereditary sight loss condition that also affects my mum and two brothers. My mum had some useable vision until she was about 16. My eldest brother could read large print until the age of eight. My middle brother can see light and dark. Up until the age of five I had some vision – I could read large print. My two eldest brothers would use me to find the football in the back garden. Now I have light perception.
As a member of the British cycling team, I have access to what is called a performance lifestyle adviser who helps athletes with anything that is not cycling related - anything from buying a house to education. A couple of years ago I was really struggling with cycling mentally.
I find cooking really relaxing. With my cycling training programme, everything I do is very regimented. I have specific numbers that I try to hit. I am very scientific and analytical. When it comes to cooking – can I follow a recipe and do what I’m told? I just can’t. I am chalk and cheese with training and cooking.
I love to cook with all different types of spices because of the sensory experience. Not just when you eat it but when you are cooking it too – how the spices change as they are cooked. My meals may not always look as good as a meal that someone who is sighted could plate up, but they are always tasty.
I would love to learn more technical cooking. At the moment I won’t attempt any filleting of fish or anything where you have to handle a lot of hot liquid – such as sugar work. I have an ongoing argument with my husband because he doesn’t want me to use a blow torch.
You get very good at problem solving when you can’t see. The world isn’t designed for people with sight loss so to get by in life – you have to find your own way
You get very good at problem solving when you can’t see. The world isn’t designed for people with sight loss so to get by in life – you have to find your own way. Growing up, we were taught never to accept no for an answer.
There are a couple of things that I use for cooking that are adapted. I have a talking kitchen scale and tactile markers. I try to keep things as simple as possible. If you keep your hot pans to a minimum you are less likely to burn yourself or accidentally knock something over. Tasty food doesn’t need to be complicated.
I love being able to cook for people and providing something for someone else. My husband’s favourite meal that I make is called a chicken creole. It is a curry with banana and pineapple served with coconut rice. It is like sunshine in a bowl.
Altrincham-based para-cyclist, Lora Fachie, won gold in the tandem pursuit at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. She posts recipes and nutrition tips on her blog, Blindingly Good Food.
- As told to Selina Powell.