QUESTIONNAIRE: PART 2

‘Some people like to read fashion magazines, some people like to go to the gym, some people like mathematics… I like to stir things’.

Welcome to part 2 of my questionnaire! In light of the last questionnaire which may have given you a slight insight into what goes on in my Kitchen, here is the second half which should give you more insight into why I feel the need to share with you what I eat on a daily basis. Sharing is caring, as they say. Who’s they? Who cares?

Also want to encourage you to follow me on the beauty that is Instagram (@mikeyandthekitchen) as there will be a few bits I’ll be posting on there that you won’t see on here… all a bit mysterious, isn’t it? Hope you enjoy!

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A typical breakfast for me:
It depends. Weekdays I don’t really have the time to invest in a decent breakfast – which is quite shaming really. I often eat breakfast at my desk in work and it usually consists of a boring breakfast bar and a big coffee – Nescafe Alta Rica is my coffee of choice at work. However on the weekend, I always make sure I eat what I love and the breakfast pattern 9 times out of 10 is always the same. It’s usually toasted sourdough bread with cream cheese, a sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper and then some wafers of smoked salmon. This then doused with a squirt of some lemon juice, followed by a snowy throw of Maldon salt and some finely diced fresh coriander. It’s my favourite breakfast in the world.

I love it when my dinner guests bring:
Alcohol.

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My interest in cooking started:
It’s interesting because my fascination with cooking came as a result of reading food writing? So technically I went into it arse backwards. Reading food books was like learning to read again. Writers such as Nigel Slater, Nigella Lawson, Gizzi Erskine, Lucinda Scala Quinn, Sophie Dahl (to name a few!) brought life to food that was intriguing to me. It was a world I had never really paid much attention to and as I loved writing anyway, putting my skills into a culinary capacity was exciting to me. Developing my food writing then naturally progressed into some culinary experiments and everything grew from there. I had always enjoyed food and dishes from my childhood but it took developing my food writing for me to truly understand the social dialogue cooking can start. I related to food writing more than I had ever related to fiction writing, so I knew there was a space there that I could comfortably and confidently express myself within.

My favourite cookbook is:
It’s like picking children as I own hundreds. I’ve even run out of storage. When I moved into my new apartment I had to specifically buy a television cabinet that could accommodate them. I can’t pick one – I could easily change this question because it’s my blog? – but I will say it’s definitely a toss up between two and that’s ‘Kitchen’ by Nigella Lawson and ‘Appetite’ by Nigel Slater. Timeless, easy domestic cooking with real soul in the writing. For photography however I’d say ‘Gizzi’s Healthy Appetite’ by Gizzi Erskine. The Gaztranomme photographed the book and it was his first book session – which blows my mind!

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My cooking mentor was:
I guess I would say my mum, who admittedly wouldn’t class herself as an adventurous cook but was definitely a product of her environment. But she’s a fantastic source of comfort because she fed me and I’m alive. There’s the trust! I still text her now asking questions about defrosting meat and whether or not I’ll die. But in terms of cooking, what I took from my mother’s Kitchen teachings was not about technique but more the experience food has in a lifestyle sphere. She showed me the power of food as a means of social connection rather than a series of expressive techniques. Growing up my mother always placed importance on a family meal and always positioned sitting at a table and discussing the day as valuable family time. It’s definitely played a part in my cooking development because now food has become situational to me, as opposed to just a source of sustenance.

I started cooking because:
I had no choice. When I moved out of the family home and no longer had my mother cooking all the good stuff, someone has to pick up the pan and continue the pattern. I’d like to say that cooking came to me as some kind of natural inspiration, but it didn’t. Cooking came to me as instinct because I enjoy good food and when you live alone, no one else is going to cook it for you. Cook something or go hungry, that’s my philosophy.

I hate it in the Kitchen when:
Someone tries to help me when I didn’t ask for it. As childish and as selfish as that may seem, I truly have only child syndrome in the Kitchen. One should always ask the cook if they need help. When someone comes in and takes it upon themselves to start chopping or start whisking, it throws off my plan and I get anxiety. I’m not a chaotic cook, but I am rather controlling. Someone who cooks has a general system of how they desire to get from A to Z, and someone coming in with their own B to Y messes up that system. Sit down, enjoy your wine and if I need help peeling or whisking, I’ll ask for it.

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My worst Kitchen experience was:
When I hosted a pre-Christmas dinner at my apartment last year for 5 of my friends. I had not long been in my new apartment and was still feeling the nuances of my Kitchen but still took it upon myself to make a full Christmas dinner with all the trimmings. Admittedly, I was not entirely sober by the time I started cooking and my timing’s were a little off kilter. While the food was really nice the temperatures of the food was all over the place. It taught me a lesson and that was not to over complicate the process. I would have felt better had I just stuck to a few things on the plate keep it simple and delicious as opposed to stress myself out trying to get as much on the plate as possible. And my advice to anyone who ever finds themselves in this pickle: serve more wine. They won’t be sober enough to realise the difference.

The most important piece of kitchen wisdom I ever received was:
‘Feel the fear and cook it anyway’ by the lovely Nigella Lawson. I feel close to Nigella in a spiritually gastronomic way as her book was gifted to me some years ago by a work colleague when I moved into my first apartment and it was the first cookery book I ever read from cover to cover as if it was a novel. That wisdom was something I clung unto in the Kitchen because it holds a ‘get over yourself’ undertone, which is something I regularly have to remind myself to do. It’s only food, if it goes wrong – it goes wrong, it’s not a big deal. Just cook it, you’ll be fine. I love that flippancy to cooking because essentially that’s what we need. We all need a huge reality check when it comes to cooking. It’s just heating up ingredients. It’s really not that big of a deal.

Photo Credits: Lowri Bethan Photography (https://www.facebook.com/LowriBethanPhotography/?fref=ts)

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