6th April 2017
Interview: Adam Park
It was in my friend Claire Tylee’s flat at Leicester University – she’d made Elizabeth David’s oxtail with white grapes, a simple and cheap dish. Even though I’d always loved to eat and my mother and grandmother were great traditional cooks, that one meal expanded my sense of what cooking could create. The balance of the richness of the meat, the slight fresh acidity of the grapes and the sweetness of the carrots. It was a different kind of taste perfection. There were about eight of us that night, a group of friends who, for reasons I don’t remember, had got hooked on David’s book French Provincial Cooking. We’d been taking turns at making meals from it, exploring pleasures that were new to us all. I’m sure the wine we had with it was seriously plonky – I don’t remember. We were students and broke, all the time.
There’s competition for that title: French Provincial Cooking, Alastair Little’s Keep it Simple, Nigel Slater’s Real Fast Food, Julie Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking Vol 1, Simon Hopkinson’s Roast Chicken & Other Stories, Jane Grigson’s English Food and Good Things.
The scenes with the main character cooking for his mother and her friends are so funny, touching, and so Italian
On a New England porch in the summer: coffee, toast and some homemade jam.
Quo Vadis. A lovely room. A warm welcome. Delicious food that is itself – no cliches.
Food in movies has never interested me – I tend to avoid films with food as a theme, except documentaries. However, I liked Big Night a lot, and I utterly loved Mid-August Lunch (Pranzo di Ferragosto). The scenes with the main character cooking for his mother and her friends are so funny, touching, and so Italian. Unsentimental, unprecious – ordinary in fact – about good food.
Mustard and cress sandwiches made with salted butter and thin white bread.
Difficult. Amongst the living there’s Raymond Blanc, Angela Hartnett, Simon Hopkinson, Paula McIntyre and Jeremy Lee. And the magnificent Susan George, author of How the Other Half Dies, still the key text to understanding why poverty and hunger go on crippling the world. And amongst those who are gone is my great hero, the one who made the most difference to my life, Derek Cooper, the journalist and first presenter of The Food Programme.
I’m on a Handel jag. At the moment I’m listening over and over again to L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato. So full of joy and life.
My quest to find the perfect streaky bacon continues.
Years ago my teenage son bought me the perfect chopping board: big, well-balanced, easy to clean – the sort that butchers have. It makes preparing every meal more satisfying.
Buying organic food. But it isn’t really an extravagance. If we paid the real cost of inorganic food at the checkout – the cost that’s passed onto us as taxpayers for what obesity, type 2 diabetes, etc, costs us – then organic wouldn’t be an expensive option.
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: 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
The Gannet Q&A: Diana Henry – The food writer recalls her favourite ever breakfast, sets out her vision for the perfect restaurant and queries people who say they love offal