Q&A: Sarah Raven

Posted · Add Comment

Sarah Raven, food writer and gardener

Which cookbook has most influenced your cooking?

I learnt to cook with Constance Spry complete cookbook and Elizabeth David – reading most of her books from cover to cover. Since then, I rarely use cookbooks, but sometimes read new books from cover to cover for new inspiration eg Honey and co by Itamar Srulovich and Sarit packer

Which is the most memorable food you ate in childhood?

I spent quite a bit of time as a child in Asolo, a town in the Veneto and learnt my love of food and cooking from there. My favourite dish, which I still make and eat all summer is Whole Globe artichokes with salsa verde including plenty of hard boiled egg and anchovies, roughly chopped with the herbs

What is your favourite food shop?

My garden in summer and early autumn – that’s my go-to food shop, having a wander round the garden and greenhouse and picking supper.

The most memorable meal in film/literature/painting?

Any of the Julia Childs food cooked up in Julie Powell’s New York apartment in the film Julie and Julia.

What was your worst kitchen disaster?

Making a foraged blackberry mousse and thinking it was a triumph of air and frothiness, but in fact the sugar had fermented in the fruit, which is why it looked so marvelous and it tasted disgusting.

What was the first thing you taught your children to cook/ or were taught yourself?

Pasta putanesca – with really good olives, anchovies and capers, in a long and slowly reduced tomato sauce with excellent olive oil added right at the end. Both my girls still make this as their go-to comfort food.

What would you like your final meal to be?

Seared, marinated fillet of beef, with sweet potato in ginger, chilli, soy and coriander, sliced super thin over punchy garden leaves.

What is your secret talent [in or out of the kitchen]?

I’m a good forager at 40 miles an hour, spotting interesting and tasty things from a moving car. I was taught the skill by my dad, botanising from his mini on all our holidays.

What did you eat for breakfast today?

Soft boiled egg (large, from our chickens here, cooked for 4 ½ minutes) with a slice of spelt toast soldiers and the first asparagus spears from the garden.

Which seasonal food do you most look forward to?

Broad beans (Stereo is the tastiest and most tender variety) and greenhouse warm tomatoes and basil (Black Krim and Sweet Genovese basil are the best varieties) Seeds from sarahraven.com

Sarah Raven’s new book is Good Good Food published by Bloomsbury £25. For a taster of the recipes in Sarah’s book, visit the recipe section in Bread&Oysters