'It started with a baguette. That first loaf, bought at dawn from a boulangerie on my way home after a night out in Paris, still warm, its crust crackling. The floury, craggy point of the bread - more crust than crumb, more air than loaf -wrenched off as I walked, and eaten (sans beurre, sans confiture, sans jambon) in the street will never leave me.'
So, back to simple
'Dinner is rarely more than a single dish in this house. A bowl of chilli and greens; plump, garlicky beans slowly cooked in the oven, a boned chicken leg on the grill brushed with thyme and lemon. Sometimes we feast: a vast dish of pasta with mussels and prawns; a steaming pie of sweet potatoes and lentils; baked fatty pork with butter beans and broth. Even then, this is straightforward eating. The nearest you will get to a 'starter' is a bowl of olives.'
Four chocolate cakes
'One afternoon, late in 2017, I made what was to become my favourite chocolate cake of all. Shallow, fudge-like and spiked with sherry-soaked golden sultanas and shards of chocolate, its surface gritty with caster sugar scented with rosemary. A cake for an autumn afternoon, perhaps with coffee or smoky roasted tea. A fire, several gardens away, had sent a long, lazy curl of smoke into the darkening sky. My fancy turned to the thought of dabbing sweet crumbs, roasted nuts and dark chocolate from a plate with my finger and thumb.'