Allegra McEvedy: 'I'm on a mission to eat as many different things as possible'

 

 

My earliest food memory...Shrove Tuesday, when I was about four. My mum was making pancakes, tossing them, and I thought it looked fun. So I grabbed the pan, not realising that it was going to be hot and ended up in A&E with an enormous blister just under my forefinger. It wasn't the greatest start [to my cooking career], but it was quite a real one!

My store-cupboard essentials... Sherry vinegar, smoked paprika, two extra-virgin olive oils – one basic and one good – some cold-pressed rape-seed oil and some kind of flaky sea salt. Also, I've always got to have some representation of pig in the fridge. Normally I'll have three different types, whether they be a bit of ham or saucisson, some bacon, a nice bit of pork or a couple of chops.

My favourite cookbook... The seminal one for me has been Claudia Roden's A New Book of Middle Eastern Food. My copy is so battered that it's held together with two elastic bands. The way she brought the culture into her writing really influenced me; most recipe books are just books of recipes, but Claudia always puts hers in context with stories and anecdotes.

The kitchen gadget I can't live without... My knives. I have about 60 of them from all around the world: I brought back the first few quite accidentally as reminders of my trips. But having enjoyed them so much, I then started to actively seek knives out; part of the mission of going on holiday was to find one that was reflective of the place where I was eating. Some of them are very useful – I work with them in a kind of rotation – and others are deeply impractical. It's quite difficult to find a use for a Brazilian pig-leg boning knife or a Malawian tea-tending knife in your culinary life, though the latter's quite good for pruning.

My culinary tip... Don't throw good money after bad: if a dish isn't going well, don't keep playing with it and chucking in more ingredients, because chances are you're only going to make things worse.

My favourite food shop... Damas Gate. It's a Syrian supermarket on the Uxbridge Road in west London. It's got a great meat counter and lots of pickled veg, and also lots of things I don't know, which makes me like it all the more.

My top table... I like what Russell Norman is doing at the moment with Polpo, Da Polpo, Spuntino... His places have great cooking and a relaxed atmosphere, and I love that you can eat lots of little different things at them: I'm a fan of small plates, but only because I'm always on a mission to eat as many different things as possible. My most memorable meal was this amazing plate of bollito misto [boiled, mixed meats] I had in Verona when I was about 21. It arrived on a huge trolley and there was a whole boiling hen, a huge cotechino [salami], an enormous ox tongue and a whole side of brisket. And it was served by a suitably old man in a burgundy jacket carving it for you: suitable pomp and ceremony for what is one of Italy's greatest dishes.

My guilty pleasure... A croissant with baked beans. It's my daughter's idea of absolute heaven, so we have it together at weekends. I'm sure the French would whack our heads off if they could see us noshing them down.

My pet hates... Garnishes – never put anything on a plate that isn't supposed to be part of the dish. Poor curly parsley, for example: it has a great flavour but it's been utterly confined to the side of the plate for the best part of two decades. Also, I hate the words "selection" and "platter" on menus – they're the least sexy in the world – as well as anything that's "on a bed of...".

Allegra McEvedy is a chef and food writer. Her latest book, 'Bought, Borrowed & Stolen: Recipes & Knives from a Travelling Chef', is published by Conran Octopus, priced £25

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Bid / Tender Writing Executive

    £24000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in Manchester, Lon...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Executives / Marketing Communications Consultants

    Competitive (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a number of Marketi...

    Recruitment Genius: Marketing Executive

    £20000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This well established business ...

    Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester

    £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester...

    Day In a Page

    Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

    The secret CIA Starbucks

    The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
    Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

    How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

    The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
    One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

    One million Britons using food banks

    Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

    The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
    Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
    Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

    Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

    They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
    Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
    The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

    The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

    Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
    How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

    How to run a restaurant

    As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
    Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

    Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

    For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
    Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

    Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

    The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
    10 best tote bags

    Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

    We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
    Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

    Paul Scholes column

    I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...