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
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Game Of Thrones
Uh-oh, winter is coming. Ouch, my eyes! Ygritte’s a goner. Lysa’s a goner. Tywin’s a goner. Look, a dragon
tvSpoiler warning:The British actor says viewers have 'not seen the last' of his character
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave long-running series
Sport
The Etihad Stadium, home of Manchester City
premier league

The Independent's live blog of today's Premier League action

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
News
people'Bring It On' actress says her legal team will combat the 'vultures'
Sport
FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: 'Time Heist' sees a darker side to Peter Capaldi's Doctor
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
voices
News
Dennis Rodman has confirmed he is not going to the Middle East to 'talk to with the leaders of Isis' as claimed in a recent satirical report
people
Sport
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Sport
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
athletics
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
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

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    Day In a Page

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam