23rd March 2017
Interview: Olia Hercules
Photographs: Sophie Davidson
More flowers are edible than you might think, according to Roger. “You can eat tulip petals, you can eat any kind of rose petal, unsprayed. A lot of ordinary garden plants – you can eat them.” Borage flowers are another. He is particularly taken with tulip petals, which have “a pleasant bitterness” that Roger likens to chicory.
“My favourite vegetable is sea beet,” says Roger, referring to a wild ancestor of beetroot. “It grows on the coast. You can cook it just like spinach, with butter and garlic. It’s delicious. All along the Suffolk and Norfolk coasts you can find it in vast amounts from February onwards. The young leaves are good enough to eat raw. By summer it will get too old, but in fact if you cut it or crop it, it will then come again, so you can eat it all year.”
Trompette de la mort
Asked to choose his favourite mushroom, Roger says: “Apart from truffle, it is trompette de la mort. They can be found here in the UK, and are sometimes difficult to find as they are obviously black, but if you find one, once you get down – you find hundreds. I cook them with blood sausage [see Recipe].”
We’re mildly shocked when Roger says he uses a spiraliser – a nifty, if maligned, gadget for turning vegetables into fine, spaghetti-like strands – but he stands by it: “Everybody uses one! It’s particularly good for courgettes.” Does he eat them raw? “They are terrific raw, but we tend to cook them. My daughter Leila put me on to this, so she is completely responsible! She likes all her vegetables either raw or barely cooked.”
Knife-sharpening stone »
Roger lists a knife-sharpening stone among his most used kitchen items.
When we visit, Roger is coring, peeling and drying apples. “Dried eating apples make the most wonderful snacks, as you chew they release all the dried-in sweet and scrummy flavours. Packed in nice jars they also make ideal Christmas gifts – in our family we try to only give personal gifts.”
Apple corer »
“The apple corer/peeler is by Pictek, but my one came from Peter Jones and cost about £15.” – Roger
Truffles, Elisabeth Luard »
The first of Roger’s two favourite food books, this is a blend of culinary advice and flavour memory by renowned English cookery writer Elisabeth Luard. It tells how to get the best out of truffles, and how they first captured her imagination.
The Salad Garden, Joy Larkcom »
In a previous career, Roger was a food photographer. When asked about his favourite shoot, he harks back to The Salad Garden. “It was by a woman called Joy Larckom, she still exists. She was an innovative cookery writer, and she first developed the use of Chinese plants. So she was the one who first introduced Oriental plants into England, particularly salad plants; she had a garden herself and grew all her own plants and vegetables.”
Inside Zoe Adjonyoh’s Kitchen – The chef and food writer on Ghanaian hot sauce, gaudy fridge magnets and the inspirations for her cookbook
Inside Erwin Gegenbauer’s Kitchen – Vienna’s “vinegar pope” on two revelatory types of wheat, a brilliant alternative to olive oil and his favourite Austrian wine
Inside Ryan Chetiyawardana’s Kitchen – The pioneering bar owner on an amazing green tea with toasted rice, some crazy-looking champagne glasses and two cocktail books that inspire him