Eating Out: Who Eats Where: Your usual table?: Viviana Durante Ballerina

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The Independent Culture
I DON'T LIKE cluttered food, I like to taste ingredients by themselves. Simplicity is everything. I think this reflects my personality. I like space, minimum clutter and people who come straight to the point, and it's the same with food.

I love eating out, but I prefer to eat at home. As an Italian I have a great love of eating as a social occasion. Dining out is not as popular in Italy as it is in Britain and I think it may have something to do with the weather. We tend to eat at home, then go for a walk and maybe get an ice-cream. In Britain you run from the house to the restaurant through the rain and stay there.

The best meal I have ever had was at home. It was a very simple meal of spinach fettucine with olive oil, black pepper and grated lemon zest, created by my brother. It was the perfect meal - delicious, simple and pure.

I am becoming more and more intrigued by cooking. It's like getting ready for a performance: the meal is your personal creation with your own touch. I'm surrounded by people who can cook well, so I get a little lazy, but I can do pasta and a cooked breakfast. If I do eat out then I choose restaurants with simple food and a good atmosphere. I love Japanese food, and I've recently discovered shabu-shabu, where you cook raw strips of beef, fish or vegetables in a pot of boiling water at your table. It combines the best of eating out and eating in, and at the end the cooking water can be drunk.

I always eat out when I'm performing, as I usually finish quite late and I'm always hungry. During the run of Manon I discovered Giovanni's (10 Goodwin Court, 55 St Martin's Lane, London WC2, tel: 0171 240 3303). It's small and tucked down an alleyway, so most people would not even know it was there. The food is light, which is important if you are eating late. One of my favourite dishes is Mozzarella in Caroza, which means "fried mozzarella". It's a dish of skill, and depends on exact timing - not frying for too long or too little and using exactly the right amount of oil.

Food is about mind and body, and you have to link the two together for a natural balance. That to me is the essence of a good meal.

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