Who needs resolutions, purges, fasts and punishments? Not me, for one. This new year I have no intention of setting out a list of good intentions: I simply wish to feel good. I say this as someone who is currently nursing a nasty sniffle, the end of the cold that started as a flu. I think actually it was previously a headache that started with a cough.

Grilled Loch Duart salmon with finger lime and kosho beurre blanc at Studio Frantzén
Grilled Loch Duart salmon with finger lime and kosho beurre blanc at Studio Frantzén © JWHowardPhoto

Although last year we were spared some of the more pernicious Covid variants, the HTSI fun house has recently been plagued by a buffet of basic ills. And, as we start a new year in which we might optimise our overall immunity, I am drawn towards ingredients and tonics that will put me back in finer health. Recently, I was intrigued to hear Professor Tim Spector of King’s College London, a specialist in genetic epidemiology, argue that we could eradicate a host of common ailments (as well as weight issues) if we ate at least 30 different plants a week. It didn’t matter much about your diet, whether dairy- or gluten-free or vegetarian – instead we should be eating as many different vegetables, fruits, nuts and spices as possible to encourage a greater diversity of gut microbes. As new year challenges go, I think it’s quite a good one. While I had not heard of yuzu kosho or sea buckthorn until I read about them in this week’s Food & Drink section, in an effort to stimulate my microbes I will be giving both a try. In particular, I like the sound of the yuzu kosho, a spicy fermented condiment that, according to its fanbase, promises to “pop” your every meal.

Sommerro in Oslo
Sommerro in Oslo © Francisco Nogueira
Dr Barbara Sturm at home in Gstaad
Dr Barbara Sturm at home in Gstaad © Torvioll Jashari

Feeling good is as much about our mental health as our activities or diets, and two other articles in the issue reinforce that fact. Kate Chapple writes candidly about how equine-assisted therapy helped her to process her grief following the death of her father. And Louis Wise talks to Rachel Whiteread, Phyllida Barlow and Alison Wilding about a friendship that has been foundational to the trio’s long careers. The sculptors are about to mount a joint exhibition, Hurly-Burly, to which each has contributed at least four works. But it’s the role they have played as each other’s advisers, champions and occasionally mentors that is really cause for celebration here. Having someone you can vent, laugh, cry and be with in a crisis is always key to a healthy psychological outlook: these “friendly witches” are testament to the power of pals.

We also have more straightforward feelgood items: from the fashion story shot by Rasmus Weng Karlsen and stylist Kristine Halken in cycle-friendly Copenhagen to an interview with the German über-facialist and creator of the “vampire facial” Dr Barbara Sturm. Sturm speaks to Kathleen Baird-Murray at home in Gstaad, shortly before she heads to London to host an “anti-inflammatory Haus”. We’ve also got the latest sex aids, should you be interested; it would seem a dereliction of duty not to include something so fundamental in an issue about getting the very best from life. 

Dancer and choreographer Léo Walk in his Paris apartment
Dancer and choreographer Léo Walk in his Paris apartment © Alex Crétey Systermans

Lastly, take a tip from Léo Walk, this week’s Aesthete, and clear away your excess furniture. The French dancer and choreographer describes life near Père Lachaise, and the apartment from which he enjoys a Paris-delicious view. “I keep my home quite empty and minimalist,” he says of his spartan living room. “The more space there is for dancing, the better I feel.”


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