My first cookery hero was Betty Crocker. My mum was given a cookbook by ‘her’as a 1950s exchange student in Wisconsin. I started leafing through it when I was about seven. The full colour pictures of angel food layer cake and glazed ham fascinated me. And it seemed entirely right that the cookie and cake sections should come before main meals, not forgetting beverages and quick breads.
As a teenager in England, Delia Smith and Nigel Slater were my heroes. My stepfather would drive us to London for dinner at Bibendum, Alistair Little or 192. These restaurants finally pulled England out of the post-war-make-do-custard-powder-sydrome and made food international, enjoyable and fun.
lemons in winter
For 26 years I lived in Portugal. The cooking is tradition-bound, but I learned to love the bread, the vegetables, the olive oil. Olive oil has its own aisle in the supermarkets. (I wasnt that picky, as long as it had an acid rate of 0.5 percent or less.) We had fruit trees in the garden: lemons all winter, and a great glut of plums in May.
working and cooking
Now I live in Amsterdam. I work, but I want to cook too. I am a great fan of the bagged vegetables. Thai, Indonesian and Chinese, of course, but you can also get Italian, Dutch and generic ‘finely chopped’ vegetables for stirfrying! I want to try them all. When I get bored of the nearly-ready-to-eat convenience of the supermarket, there is the market, with green beans as long as shoelaces, or the Turkish or Chinese shops, where the whiff of salt cod reminds me of Lisbon.
As long as it’s jammie,