Rosie Lovell: 'Something in my brain went and now I can't eat coriander'


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My earliest food memory...Being sent out to pick spinach and courgettes from my parents' vegetable patch. I remember spinach being really woody and pretty hard work – it was a cruel upbringing! My favourite childhood dish was my mum's "pasta willy"; it was a massive piece of home-made pasta, scattered with wilted spinach and leftover ham, rolled up, cooked in muslin then covered in a lovely tomato sauce.

My store-cupboard essentials... Chickpeas, because you can do anything if you've got pulses, lots of different rices and flours, and ready-made dal makhani in a tin: it's half kidney beans and half small lentils, almost a bit like mince, and it's fantastic with some pitta for last-minute lunches. Also, barberries, which are really small, sour, dried berries used a lot in Persian cooking. They're great for studding in pilau rice, and I sometimes put them in cookies as they make a nice change from blueberries et al.

My favourite cookbook... For general reference, I really like The Constance Spry Cookery Book, and the Moro cookbooks please me a lot. Another of my favourites, though I've never actually cooked from it, is Jake Tilson's A Tale of 12 Kitchens. He's a designer, and it's just lovely as an object in itself.

The kitchen gadget I couldn't live without... My lemon squeezer. It's an old-fashioned one, like those you get in bars, and it's so good that you have to adapt recipes because the juice you get out of one lemon will be far more than a normal "one lemon" measure.

My top culinary tip... When you're cooking tomatoes, always add a bit of sugar to neutralise their acidity. It's particularly important with tinned ones, as you really need to counter that slightly metallic taste they have.

My favourite food shop... The Nour Cash & Carry in Brixton. It's run by an Iranian family and it really pushes the boat out in terms of Middle Eastern ingredients. You can get bags of pistachio nuts and honey with almonds in it and really nice filo pastry and beautiful herbs, as well as all the boring stuff, such as bleach, which you need as well.

My top table... Kaosarn, which is a Thai restaurant round the corner from me. It's proper Thai food: if you to to Thailand, they sell fried chicken on every street corner and they sell it there, too. They do a nice green papaya salad and a brilliant tom yum soup: it's absolutely bog-standard, but great every time.

My dream dining companion... I want to say Kate Moss, but she wouldn't eat dinner and she's probably a plonker. In fact, it would have to be all of my ex-boyfriends: as a one-night-only occasion, the frisson and excitement would be superb.

The strangest thing I've eaten... Horse-heart sashimi. I had it in a blue-collar worker's bar in Tokyo which me and my husband stumbled upon when we went there a couple of years ago. The chef was gorgeous, with this rockabilly quiff, and he kept giving us all these strange things such as chicken knuckle and that. We just got more and more drunk and it was a brilliant night.

My pet hates... The word "foodie". I think it's a term people use to imply they are somehow superior to the normal people who just eat three meals a day, and I don't like that sense of hierarchy. Also I don't like coriander, which was never the case, until I had a brain haemorrhage a few years ago. The night I had the haemorrhage, I had eaten ceviche, which is really coriander-heavy and something in my brain went. Now, I have to pick it out of food: even the smell of it can give me a headache.

Rosie Lovell is the owner of Rosie's Deli Café in Brixton Market, London SW9. Her new cookbook, 'Supper with Rosie: Recipes from Family, Friends and Far-Flung Places', is out now, published by Kyle Books, priced £16.99