Amore Appassionato – falling in love with Spaghetti Bolognese

The boys are back in town – in this case, oldest son, Tom, and his friend Kieran. Old habits die hard and I started thinking of recipes for pasta – the proverbial family standby. But it wasn’t always so. It may be hard to believe, but I was 10 before I ever ate pasta. Continue reading “Amore Appassionato – falling in love with Spaghetti Bolognese”

Colonial Adventures – East African Curry

I grew up in MMBA – a colonial acronym for ‘miles and miles of bloody Africa’. My first food memories are of mangoes and paw-paws, avocados, fresh crabs and lobsters on holidays down on the Kenyan Coast, and spicy hot Indian curries – thanks to the large Asian community who lived in Nairobi. I loved going with my mother on her shopping trips to the Indian bazaar to buy spices. Continue reading “Colonial Adventures – East African Curry”

Straight from the Tables of Disney

Like many of us born in the 50s, my childhood was difficult. People were too traumatised by the war and their losses. It can’t have been easy on any front to return to whatever ‘normality’ was.  Neither of my parents seemed to be able to settle down. They banged around like an out of control bobsleigh on the Cresta run, although not always together. Fortunes went up and down as they careered from job to job and town to town, dragging my grandmother, my brother, and I with them. Continue reading “Straight from the Tables of Disney”

The Legendary Cassoulet

The cassoulet in its cassole
The cassoulet in its cassole

Cassoulet is a legend here in the South West of France. Quite literally. It was supposed to have originated during the Hundred Years War when the English were besieging the nearby town of Castelnaudary in 1355. The story goes that the inhabitants cooked up what was left of their beans, bones, scraps of meat and dried bits of ham, then went out and beat the English!

Like many of my favourite dishes, I suspect it has its real origins in “peasant food”, namely cooking whatever is to hand, but over the centuries, it has become a complex and truly wonderful dish. It takes its name from the large earthenware pot in which it is cooked and served – “le cassole” – hence “Cassoulet”. When it’s cooked for you by my good friend, Philippe Seguier then it is, quite simply, probably the best cassoulet you’ll ever taste. Continue reading “The Legendary Cassoulet”

Oh Deer, Oh Deer

There is no law, rule, or regulation that says you have to love, like, or even get on with your siblings. As a mother of four, I would be horrified if my children didn’t at least like, rub along with, and support each other. Yes, horrified. Yet my relationship with my brother was far from harmonious… Continue reading “Oh Deer, Oh Deer”

The Sage of a Francophile

Growing up it was hard not to learn to love all things French. My father’s family come from Guernsey, an island that is approximately forty-three miles from the French coast, and double that from the UK mainland. Continue reading “The Sage of a Francophile”

One Step, Two Steps – Peas In A Pod

Peas in a pod
Peas in a pod

Back in 2012, I was asked to test this recipe for pea and courgette salad by my step-step-grand-daughter Niaomh, who was editing and publishing The Deptford Community Cookbook. Since then, the salad has become a spring-time favourite of mine. But before we get into peas and their pods, I suspect you’re trying to work out what is a ‘step-step-grand-daughter’? Let me explain… Continue reading “One Step, Two Steps – Peas In A Pod”

A Simple Soup for Sore Throats

The simplest of ingredients
The simplest of ingredients

There’s something about being ill that completely changes your appetite, both in terms of quantity and desire. Today was the first time in four weeks that I ate a fresh green salad – normally a daily habit of mine. But then I’ve been ill with bronchitis and an awful laryngitis and, as a result, my appetite has become that of a child. I’ve been eating nursery food.  Continue reading “A Simple Soup for Sore Throats”

An Italian Con-fusion

I don’t think you ever forget your first trip to Venice. Mine was in March, a melancholy month at the best of times. Dark clouds were blanketing London and the plane trees lining my street dripped water from the tips of their, as yet, sticky buds. At work, I had been assigned to ‘special projects’ whilst seeing out a six month notice period. At home my relationship with my then partner was becoming unhinged. I was bored with life and felt in need of a break before I could embark on my new career with a spring in my step. Continue reading “An Italian Con-fusion”