One Minute With: Elisabeth Luard, novelist and food writer

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The Independent Culture

Where are you now and what can you see?

I'm sitting at my writing desk [in west Wales]. I can see the potatoes planted by my grandchildren.

What are you currently reading?

'Eat, Pray, Love' by Elizabeth Gilbert. The book is much better than the film, and I have an appetite for that sort of American enthusiasm. I'm reading it as an antidote to 'The Hare with Amber Eyes' [by Edmund de Waal]: it's a very good book, but it is quite precious.

Choose a favourite author, and say why you admire her/him

Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher: she wrote about food, but in its context, as part of a way of life [in France]. She's credited with playing a part in bringing America into the Second World War, by reminding her fellow-countrymen of what they were likely to lose.

Describe the room where you usually write

A very large studio, separated from the house in which I live – a stone-built rectory – by a glassed passage. It's two storeys high, with arched windows, and 1960s paintings.

What distracts you from writing?

Going out to make cups of coffee. And my grandchildren. I absolutely drop anything for them.

Which fictional character most resembles you?

Nerissa, Portia's sidekick [in 'The Merchant of Venice']. She's not the principal, but the observer. I quite like the fact that she makes things happen.

What are your readers like when you meet them?

The readers of my cookbooks are often pretty knowledgeable. But it's a great unifier, talking about food. The men want more detail in recipes than the women, though: they're worriers and warriors.

Who is your hero/heroine from outside literature?

Nelson Mandela. He made an extraordinary difference. To invent truth and reconciliation – that's an enduring legacy.

Elisabeth Luard's new book is 'A Cook's Year in a Welsh Farmhouse' (Bloomsbury)