The broadcaster and author on the joys of a chippy and his Dish podcast with chef Angela Hartnett.
As told toFarida Zeynalova
Published September 13, 2023
• 6 min read
This article was produced by National Geographic Traveller (UK).
My earliest memory of food is my dad going to the chippy every Friday. Growing up, we never had any other takeout than the chippy near our house [in Oldham] — it was called Tony’s. My mum would cook the rest of the time, so my dad saw it as his job to do the ritualistic, Friday-night chippy pilgrimage. I actually don’t like battered fish, so I’d have a chip muffin [bread roll] with gravy and mushy peas. Even after all the restaurants I’ve been to, it’s still one of my favourite meals.
When I was eight, I remember being in a restaurant and asking for snails. My mum and dad had taken me to York for the day and asked if I really wanted them, and I said, “I want snails!” I saw it as something exciting to try as opposed to ‘eugh, couldn’t eat that’. I’ve always been quite an adventurous eater. Some people are funny, aren’t they? They’ll eat meat but they won’t eat a pig’s head or a trotter or tripe. I’m of the mindset that if you’re going to eat an animal, give it the respect of eating all of it.
Angela’s the perfect person to do a food podcast with. She’s not worried about the food or the podcast at all, she’s just like, “It’ll be alright, let’s just have a laugh”, which is exactly what you need. She’s really talented and knows food intrinsically. There’s something instinctive about her cooking — she can just do it. She’s naturally funny and has this amazing ‘I don’t give a sh*t attitude’, which I love. She also taught me to take the stress out of cooking, and if I’m having a dinner party, to just do easy, delicious stuff. As she’s said before, “It’s only a bit of food”.
I love making puttanesca. It’s one of Angela’s recipes, although I don’t ‘make’ the pasta like she does. What’s the point? It ain’t going to taste like hers! I love all the strong flavours of the olives, anchovies, capers, tomatoes and garlic. It’s easy, delicious and feels nourishing. I don’t like making things that are too faffy and precise — just really nice veg, salads, pasta, a bit of fish. Can’t beat it.
My favourite place, from breakfast right through to dinner, is New York. We went there in May and based our trip around eating out. I think New Yorkers have this energy and expectation that everything should be good, and that revs up the standards of everywhere. We went to a place called Dhamaka, an Indian restaurant in a food market in the Lower East Side, and that was some of the tastiest food I’ve ever had. We had a biriyani baked in a clay pot and it came with yoghurt on top and a bread lid. We also had a really spicy, fried paneer. I’ve never had Indian food like it — it was so banging.
For me, Primeur is the perfect restaurant. It does simple food exceptionally well and is relaxed and understated — it’s a bit like going to someone’s house for dinner. It’s set in an old car garage right by us [in Stoke Newington, London], and it has really lovely, fresh food that lets the ingredients do the talking. They have the nicest bread and butter ever, so we always get that and a selection of charcuterie meat, pickled anchovies… it’s seasonal, so the menu changes all the time. I’ve had things like pig’s head on toast, a really nice hake and sage gnudi (ricotta dumplings). I love it there — it never lets me down.
I’d love to have Cardi B on Dish; I just know she’d be good at sitting down for a goss. She’s funny, charming, political and she doesn’t take herself too seriously. Plus, her and Angela together would be mind-blowing.
Dish, from Waitrose & Partners, hosted by Nick Grimshaw and Angela Hartnett, is available on all podcast providers.
Published in Issue 21 (autumn 2023) of Food by National Geographic Traveller (UK).
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