25th October 2016
One meal I’d love to revisit happened during a trip to Ethiopia a few years back. I was there to write a story for the charity World Vision, who help women find trades and become self-sufficient. We went to visit a lady on the outskirts of Addis who was making money by producing injera1. She invited us into her home where she cooked a feast. Onto injera she piled various meat stews, vegetable and lentil dishes, blistered chillies. She gestured to me as she moved around her tiny makeshift kitchen, inviting me to stir the pot, wafting the cooking steam towards my nose. Cooks always find a way to communicate in these situations. The rich minced meat stew, the fragrant lentils, yellow with turmeric, the spiced butter and the berbere – a rust red Ethiopian chilli and spice mix that is so fundamental to the cuisine (every cook should seek it out)… That’s where I learned about the tradition of gursha, which is where you tear a piece of injera with your right hand, scoop some food and feed it to your neighbour. They then return the favour. After the meal our host made coffee, hunched over the roasting beans, smoke spiralling up to the ceiling, a patchwork of corrugated iron and fabric. I can almost smell it now.
It’s actually a book that I bought in a supermarket sale for a couple of quid called Indian by Das Sreedharan. The pages are crinkled and stuck together.
I wrote a whole post on my blog about this: things you’re supposed to like as a Food Person but actually find quite disgusting. Something I didn’t go into in that post is how much I hate eating brains. I just do not understand the appeal. They’re creamy and wobbly and totally freakin’ gross.
This is an impossible question. I like different restaurants for different occasions. I’m going to cop out and say any seaside place that serves crab with bread, mayonnaise and crisp, cold white wine. I’m obsessed with crab. Obsessed.
I went to Gleneagles a couple of years back and I found out that a lot of people go there for their honeymoon. They do this thing where you can have the most incredible, leisurely, extravagant breakfast that starts with fruit (the kind you can’t usually be bothered with in the morning), moving onto eggs, then steaks (not joking) a truckload of smoked salmon and then pastries. The best bit though, the really important bit, is that it’s washed down with a bucket load of champagne. I mean, fair play. I want that. I want all of that, in my pyjamas and slippers, no make-up on, hair unwashed. I’m still in bed, come to think of it. Then I would like someone else to take it all away and wash up while I binge-watch Netflix before falling asleep. Look, I don’t get much time off, ok?
Pippin is made to sing this haunting tune in the background while Denethor sucks and slurps on these tomatoes, their seeds spraying everywhere, juice running down his chin. It’s gross and powerful and brilliant
This is a bit weird because it’s not a scene that makes you think, wow, I need to eat that, and it definitely doesn’t make you feel fuzzy inside. It’s that scene in The Return of The King (from The Lord of The Rings – I was a big fan as a kid) where Denethor is eating a tomato, and it’s so vulgar and poignant it makes me shiver every time. He has sent his son to certain death but he’s sitting there eating lunch. Pippin is made to sing this haunting tune in the background while Denethor sucks and slurps on these tomatoes, their seeds spraying everywhere, juice running down his chin. It’s gross and powerful and brilliant.
I can listen to the sound of pasta cooking and tell you if it’s ready or not.
Chipotle goat tacos with sour creamed corn were up there.
At the moment there are a lot of 80’s playlists in the air at our house. 80’s cheese and 90’s hip hop. Other than that I might have half an eye on Netflix. Chef’s Table is amazing, and there’s some fun stuff on Vice Munchies.
A wine glass.
I find tripe a challenge. It was all fine and dandy until I had a piece that was really… musty.
Other customers, if I’m brutally honest. It’s almost a cliché now to say this but I can’t stand any OTT photography in restaurants. I witnessed a situation during a lunch service not so long ago where a woman was actually standing on a chair and rearranging her food in order to get a good photo. I guess it’s up to you but I find it really embarrassing.
I will spend almost any amount on good butter. I don’t care if it costs more than a fiver, if it’s super high quality fat then I’m in. I also spent £40 recently on a 1kg piece of Galician beef. I hope my family doesn’t read this.
The Gannet Q&A: Ruby Tandoh – The baker & food writer on her filmmaking food hero, a life-affirming ice cream, and the cookbook she's engaged with more than any other
The Gannet Q&A: Sheila Dillon – The BBC Food Programme host on food heroes, the hidden value of organic food and her seven most-used cookbooks
The Gannet Q&A: Yemisi Aribisala – The Nigerian food writer on an unforgettable slice of New York pizza, roasting her own coffee for breakfast, and her biggest food hero
The Gannet Q&A: Adrian Miller – The award-winning soul food scholar on a recipe that reminds him of his mother, a legendary New Orleans restaurant and his most treasured kitchen object