‘Come over here,Uncle Matt,’ said my nephew Richard. ‘You cook dinner and I’ll introduce you to the blogosphere and twitter and other 21st century forms of communication.’
I did and he did, and this is the proof.
Call me greedy, but my blog will be entirely about food, the food I come across every day, and how I come across it; the food I eat and the places in which I eat it; the food I cook, and why I cook it; ingredients, the people who produce the ingredients and the world they produce it in and any other matters that spring to mind. There’ll be reviews of restaurants and conversations with chefs. There’ll be recipes and profiles of the people who produce the ingredients for the recipes. And there’ll be blogs about the world they produce it in and any other matters that spring to mind.
To adapt the sayings of the great Bill Shankly, food isn’t a matter of life or death. It’s more important than that. We all have to eat, once, twice, three or even more times a day, so we might as well get as much pleasure out of it it as we can. It’s not about health. It’s not about what you ought to do. It’s not about some up-your-bum, navel-gazing exclusivity. It’s mostly about pleasure and fun. Or should be. Generally speaking, food is far too important to be taken seriously, but just occasionally you do. So I’ll take it any way it comes, and that’s how I’ll write about it.
Why should you want to read it?
Hmm. Well, think of this blog as a box of chocolates. Some people like soft centers and some hard. Some like marzipan beneath the glossy coating and others nuts. There are truffles and violet creams, mint and toffee. I hope that anyone who is interested in food, cooking, shopping, eating in and out, and anyone who thinks about the wider context of food production, even growing their own, I hope will find something of interest. A lifetime of eating, thinking about eating, dreaming about eating and talking about eating goes into each entry.
[Incidentally, my sister Elizabeth, takes the credit for the photo above]
I’ve been a keen cook ever since I made fudge under the watchful eye of my granny on wet Saturday afternoons. For twenty years I worked as a copywriter and creative director for a variety of advertising agencies. It was a perfect business for someone as naturally idle as myself and a great way to educate your palate at someone else’s expense.
In 1986 by sheer good fortune I was asked to write a column about food in the Financial Times Saturday Review. In 1989 I shook the dust of advertising off my feet when Alan Rusbridger suggested I become Food & Drink Editor of The Guardian, a position I happily occupied for seventeen years.
I also wrote a cookery column for the Illustrated London News for one year, and another for Esquire for five years. Over the years I’ve also done a fair bit of scribbling for Vanity Fair, The Observer, The Mail on Sunday, the Daily Telegraph, Business, Country Living, Country Homes & Interiors, Decanter, The Field, ES Magazine, Cuisine et Vins de France, Bon Appetit, Eat, Waitrose Food Illustrated, Lonely Planet and Jamie’s Magazine and other publications.
I was Glenfiddich Food Writer of the Year and Restaurateurs’ Writer of the Year in 1991, and Glenfiddich Restaurant Writer of the Year in 1992, and Glendfiddich Cookery Writer of the Year in 2005 and was awarded the Premio Antica Corte Pallavicina in 2008 for services supporting English and Italian food producers.
I edited the Guardian Sausage Directory in 1992. In 1998 I published Rhubarb & Black Pudding (Fourth Estate), a book about the Lancastrian chef, Paul Heathcote and the Ribble Valley. Eating Up Italy (Fourth Estate), a book about Italians and their food, based on a prolonged trip on a Vespa from the tip of Southern Italy to Turin, was the Guild of Food Writers’ Book of the Year in 2005. My most recent book, an account of my gastronomic adventures in Sicily, Sweet Honey, Bitter Lemons (Ebury Press) won the Premio Sicilia Madre Mediterranea in 2009. I took the photograph at the head of Fort on Food on that trip. It’s of Da Michele, a fish barbecue stall, in a night market in Palermo.
Rather to my surprise, and the utter astonishment of my family, I graduated to television first with a series called Greatest Dishes in the World (Sky; 2005). Then came The Forager’s Field Guide (ITV; 2005). For a brief, golden two and a half years I was one of the presenters of the high cult Market Kitchen (Good Food Channel). Currently I’m one of the judges The Great British Menu (BBC2) since 2006, and I’m still at it filming Series 13 currently).
And that’s where I am today.