SHAMEFUL FOOD CONFESSIONS

I used to hide cabbage under my plate until my Grandmother – who would always pile up her Sunday roasts like skylines – would shame me into eating it by calling it ‘spinach’ . It’s because Popeye was big at the time, not that I liked Popeye, but it made my Grandmother laugh and I was a clown so it worked.

I ate a Peperami every day of my childhood. I recall having a mixture of both school dinners and packed lunches. There was no template to the packed lunches my mother would do for me, but they were always balanced and always contained fruit but I do remember a Peperami being present a lot. I will also forever be grateful to my mother for getting me on mustard from a young age.

If I had to become a food I’d want to be an egg. It’s always full and can be made into so many different things. What an adventure it must be to be an egg.

My biggest food pet peeve is someone who claims to hate liver but loves pate.

I once ran away from my family in Disneyland Florida to get a free hot dog. I genuinely got separated from my family once when I was a young child in Disneyland and as a means to calm me, the staff gave me a huge hot dog and a merchandised mug. A year or so later when we returned, a much older yet not particularly wiser Mikey, tried to go missing in the Animal Kingdom to get another mug and hot dog. I was not successful.

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I have stolen recipes. I have never ‘published’ a stolen recipe without crediting or tweaking as necessary, but yes of course I have stolen recipes. Food is like language. It only lives if it’s being used so in theory a recipe only exists if it’s being passed on. Ideally, the reason I like doing what I do is so that people steal my recipes, so by not stealing others, I’d be making my own passion redundant. I get a lot of people who send me pictures of food they have cooked from my blog and I love it. It’s the only theft I encourage.

I once claimed my mother’s cupcakes as my own when I took them into work. I took them into work when I was in University and genuinely didn’t originally mean to claim them, until they received a lot of positive feedback and compliments and I buckled under the pressure of vanity and when asked did I make them, I simply nodded my head. I came clean 2 years later when I was asked to bake them again.

I am shamelessly in love with the smell of cooking pig. No two ways. The smell of bacon both excites and soothes me. There is no particular stage in my life that I associate to bacon because it’s always been a constant presence. From freshly cut boiled ham sandwiches in my mum’s Kitchen to bacon sandwiches fried in a rusty pan in the pits of a hangover in University. Pig is forever.

I never used to cook. I once had a wonderful housemate named Helen who was a great cook and had a good taste for food and she taught me a lot. I remember watching her make a cheesecake with no recipe to hand which was a great experience for a novice. However, 9 times out of 10 I would cook pasta or have a bowl of cereal for supper. I only started cooking when I lived alone.

I rarely peel potatoes. It’s too faffy and I’m too lazy. Unless it’s roast potatoes for a Sunday dinner, in which case peeling is a necessity.

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The meal I lived on in University is one that will haunt me until the day I die. I would boil pasta to the point of car tire, drain it and put it in a bowl. I would then empty a can of tuna on top of this before smothering it all in cheap Mayonnaise and stirring. I remember I actually used to look forward to this meal when I would be sat in a lecture.

I very, very rarely eat takeaway food. This has nothing to do with health concerns. I’m just too impatient. The majority of my recipes can be cooked and consumed before a delivery would make it to the front door so I always think why bother. Plus a plate of “Chinese food” is quite possibly the ugliest thing I have ever seen.

I feed my dog as I cook. I have a French Bulldog named Waffle, who for his age is almost double the size he is supposed to be. This isn’t due to poor diet or overeating – he is just a big boned baby of a dog. But he has a fascination with watching me cook and if ever I am chopping vegetables, he always gets a few bites. It’s a bad habit that I shouldn’t have started but am in no rush to break.

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I don’t believe in guilty pleasure because in this dark world, one should thrive on pleasure in any format it comes to them. However my trashiest food pleasure is pork pies. I eat them stood up in the Kitchen, straight from the fridge. I squirt an inappropriate amount of ketchup (has to be Heinz) on its surface and take a bite. I continue to squirt ketchup on each bite as I go. On more than one occasion I’ve eaten a pack of four in one sitting.

I went through a ridiculous phase where I stopped eating poultry. Or anything that originally came with feathers. Not for humanity reasons but because I convinced myself that all poultry was dry. Then I went home one weekend and my mother cooked a chicken dinner and I came to my senses.

I hate the term ‘dinner party’. Mostly because I hate the word dinner and the word party feels incredibly old-school. It’s just you and your muckers sat around a table and eating – it need not be glorified.

My idea of a food nightmare is eating outdoors. I can’t bare it. By outdoors, I don’t mean picnics or a finger-food situation on a blanket with a beer, which I happened to quite enjoy, I mean full on eating outdoors. As in going to a restaurant and the person I’m dining with suggest we eat outside. I don’t cope well with bugs. I also like walls. I like the confines of personal space.

People shouldn’t play around with dietary restrictions. People have real problems and would kill to have the luxury of eating a normal piece of bread. For 7 years I lived with somebody with celiac disease and have seen how it can affect those with genuine intolerances. The majority of people who introduce gluten-free this or dairy-free that or meat-free this into their diet with no authorised medical encouragement are usually seeking attention.

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The recipe I have tried to make work on many occasions and have never got right is a particular pork belly recipe. It’s essentially pork belly marinated in tamarind and orange zest. I’ve cooked it for both my mother and my friend and neither enjoyed it. I have a three strikes and it’s out rule so I’ll make it one more time and if it fails, it will never see the light of day again.

I once set an oven on fire. I put it on the highest setting of the grill instead of the oven and the whole thing went up in flames.

I can’t cook without a Chef’s Treat. This basically means I can’t cook something unless I’m snacking on something else while I do it. My Chef’s Treat is usually plain digestive biscuits or my favourite crisps in the world, which are those grotesque maize cheese balls that leave your fingers encased in cheesy filth.

The first food I cooked romantically was a risotto. A bacon and mushroom risotto. I over salted it and the person I cooked it for said that ‘cooking wasn’t my forte’. See the Curried Crab Risotto for more information.

I don’t hate any food. My palette is indestructible. I have favourites, of course, but I’m not at all a fussy eater. I’ll try anything once.

(PHOTO CREDIT: Lowri Bethan Photography)

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