What's the story behind your cooking journey?
Looking back to the time when I first started to cook, I can honestly say that practice makes better—it really does! One of my first cooking memories is when I cooked a meal for myself and my boyfriend (who thereafter became my husband). The meal I cooked for us was my mother’s version of spaghetti bolognese and my attempt was pretty good. My boyfriend said that he liked the meal. I think he also liked the fact that I was spending time trying to impress him. He was honest though, and commented that he’d been used to eating the dish with a lot more tomatoes in it. And over time, I began to prefer it with more tomatoes and have since perfected it to our taste.
And so my cooking journey really began when I left home. I would ask my mother about certain recipes which had been handed down to her from her mother, make notes and have a go at making them myself. However, I was constantly looking out for other easy and tasty recipes to follow and try out. The more I cooked, the more familiar and less daunting the kitchen became.
How did your upbringing influence your cooking?
My parents were immigrants who came from Cyprus to London to work in 1962 and stayed nearly their whole lives. I was born in 1964 and have lived in North London all my life. I was the youngest of five children and one thing that really stands out for me is that we never had a takeaway. We grew up with tasty home cooking. We didn’t go to restaurants and having a take away was alien to my parents.
The area I grew up in had a diversity of cultures and included people from many different backgrounds. This inspired me to make a cookbook of international dishes. My cookery book embraces this diversity. I’ve brought together a variety of popular international dishes so that the new cook can be aware of other nationalities and their cooking.
What made you write the cook book?
My husband and I had four daughters and raised them in North London with its different cultures and ethnic backgrounds.
The kitchen was the heart of our home – the parties we had, the
get-togethers. But as family members moved on, I worried they would forget the food they’d grown up with. Many years ago I wrote a
few helpful cooking suggestions for a family member who suffers
from mental illness. I wanted him to know how to make certain dishes he had been used to eating with the family. And then a few years
later, when my oldest daughter was twenty years old, I
wanted to create a file of recipes for my daughters—a reminder of the Greek Cypriot and English food we had eaten and enjoyed as
they grew up. And so this is where the foundations of my
book began and have since evolved into a more international selection of dishes.