Antonio Carluccio: 'I like those things the British don't eat, such as chicken feet'


My earliest food memory... It is the wonderful latte from my mother's teat! But also it is of the fantastic dishes that my mother prepared in the wartime out of nothing. For example, pasta e patate, which is just pasta and potatoes, with a bit of lard and a bit of celery. It was very starchy, but it was heaven.

Store-cupboard essentials... Olive oil, obviously, some different types of pasta, some tins of ripe tomatoes – these days you can get really wonderful ones – and pecorino cheese. One of my favourite store-cupboard dishes is spaghetti aglio, olio e peperoncino – spaghetti with garlic, oil and chilli. You can have it as a midnight feast; it takes five or six minutes, and it's fantastic.

Top cookbook... La Scienza in Cucina e l'Arte di Mangiare Bene [Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well] by Pellegrino Artusi. Artusi wrote it in the 19th century, and it was the first book to highlight all of Italy's wonderful regional specialities. That's why I like it, because, in a sense, "Italian food" doesn't exist – it only exists by regions.

The kitchen appliance i can't live without... A very sharp, beautiful knife is a must, but basically I like very down-to-earth stuff.

Culinary tip... Don't tart things up too much. I've just finished filming a TV series, and I went to some restaurants where they do unbelievable things to classic regional dishes, adding ingredients where they don't belong because they think the recipes are too humble. In Turin, there was even a fusion restaurant trying to make risotto with all sorts of Eastern herbs, cooked in miso liquid instead of wonderful stock. Risotto is risotto – you can't change it and if you do, you should call it something else.

Favourite food shop... It's a little bit difficult to say, because I don't go shopping too much. As for markets, I think the farmers' markets here have fallen flat – they lack originality, and sometimes they even sell imported food. My favourite markets are the ones in Italy – like the one in Turin, which is a big, big market, but also has special little corners where there are sweet old ladies selling stuff that comes from their back garden, such as bunches of herbs and walnuts.

My top table... I have two London restaurants I visit regularly: La Famiglia on Langton Street in Chelsea, which I have been going to for 30 to 40 years because the owner is a good friend – it is very homely, and I am always treated as a fantastic guest. The other is New World off Shaftesbury Avenue – fantastic dim sum. I particularly like all those things the British don't eat, such as chicken feet.

Dream dining companion... The man I always had in mind was Peter Ustinov. He had a great wit and a great knowledge of languages and he seemed to have another dimension as a man.

Guilty pleasure... A tube of condensed milk. I usually have one in the car – you can squeeze it into your mouth. It reminds me of my childhood – I may be 73, but I am still a child.

The strangest thing i've eaten... Putrefied shark – it's an Icelandic speciality; they put it in sand and let it rot for a month, then fillet it and eat slivers of that. It is traditionally accompanied by schnapps, which I think is so they can forget it – it is re-vol-ting.

Pet hates... Usually I don't like food that is highlighted as very special. Japanese matsutake mushrooms, for example – they cost £500 a kilo and people make a big song and dance about them, but they are one of the least flavoursome mushrooms in my opinion. Truffles are my preference, obviously – in fact, I'd like to be buried with them.

Tipple of choice... I like very good whisky. I am a member of the Scotch Malt Whisky society and they send me lots of fantastic stuff straight from the barrel.

Antonio Carluccio is a chef, restaurateur and food writer (antonio-carluccio.com)

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
techPatent specifies 'anthropomorphic device' to control media devices
Voices
The PM proposed 'commonsense restrictions' on migrant benefits
voicesAndrew Grice: Prime Minister can talk 'one nation Conservatism' but putting it into action will be tougher
News
Ireland will not find out whether gay couples have won the right to marry until Saturday afternoon
news
News
Kim Jong-un's brother Kim Jong-chol
news
News
Manchester city skyline as seen from Oldham above the streets of terraced houses in North West England on 7 April 2015.
news
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

    Guru Careers: Events Coordinator / Junior Events Planner

    £24K + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Events Coordinator ...

    Royal Yachting Association Cymru Wales: Chief Executive Officer

    Salary 42,000: Royal Yachting Association Cymru Wales: The CEO is responsible ...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

    £35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

    Ashdown Group: Technical IT Manager - North London - Growing business

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A growing business that has been ope...

    Day In a Page

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
    Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

    Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

    Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
    Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

    Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

    Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
    Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

    Join the tequila gold rush

    The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
    12 best statement wallpapers

    12 best statement wallpapers

    Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
    Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

    Paul Scholes column

    Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?