Tell us about your favourite food memory from your childhood...
I have so many good food memories from childhood but the one that is embedded in my heart is from a time in Mauritius, standing in the warm sun, watching my grandfather in a field near his home as he used a billhook to cut down a stem of sugar cane then stripping it so that my cousins and I could chew the pieces until they released their sugary sweet juice.
What would your advice be to someone who is new to cooking and is looking to put more love into the ritual of preparing food at home?
Slow down. If you have the option to, slow down. Speed appears to be the organising principle of so many recipes and approaches to cooking, so I think slowing down is the best way to bring a gentle joy to the process, to truly appreciate the ingredients and to really gain an understanding of how a dish comes together.
Tell us about one of your cooking rituals at home...
I’ve found that one of the ways that I can manage my anxiety is to carve out a solid few hours to cook or bake something that requires my whole attention, preferably with multiple steps and periods of pause throughout the process. Following an overly involved and drawn out recipe - such as cardamom buns or chocolate babka - is something I find deeply soothing.
What’s your favourite thing about having friends and family round for dinner?
Feeding people is my love language. I suppose that’s why I love growing food, as it’s an entirely natural extension of the way I convey love. I have felt the most nourished and cared for when my belly is full of food cooked by someone who cares for me - my partner or my parents most often - so offering that particular expression of love to whoever is at my table brings me immense joy.
Tell us about one of the most memorable meals someone important in your life has cooked for you...
Throughout the writing of my book, Unearthed, I did a terrible job of taking care of myself. There was so much work to do and it was such an enormous and emotional undertaking that I struggled to even take breaks. But my partner, Sam, made sure that at the end of each day, there was something delicious on the kitchen table for us to eat together. The generous dinners that he cooked for me got me through the entire writing process.
“Speed appears to be the organising principle of so many recipes and approaches to cooking, so I think slowing down is the best way to bring a gentle joy to the process”.