It's the achievability of a meal that I love. Risotto with salmon, cod, prawns, lime zest, star anise, shedloads of garlic... it's a great big project, but it can all be executed within a short space of time. There's a nice, finite perfectionism about it.
When you cook for others it's a beautiful mixture of servitude and relatively swift gratification, but if you do it on your own it's a meditative exercise, filling the mind with simple, disciplined actions, such as chopping.
I think it all goes back to childhood and making potions – taking mud, worms and grass and stirring it up in a hole with a stick. Cooking is a more sophisticated version of that.
"Shakespeare and England – The Big Debate": The Courtyard Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon (0844 800 1110, www.rsc.org.uk), 11am, 10 FebruaryReuse content