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On My Plate: Scream if you want to go pasta… Foodie’s love of Italian cuisine

© PARachel Roddy
Rachel Roddy

Food writer Rachel Roddy made our lives much, much easier with the release of her brilliant cookbook – An A To Z Of Pasta – in which she shares simple suppers with a side of thoughtfulness and pasta history.

It’s vital reading and vital cooking. Here, the Rome-based foodie reveals what’s on her plate – and what is most definitely not.

Your death row meal would be…

Roast chicken, boiled potatoes – little sort of waxy ones from someone’s garden. And a salad with a really mustardy, oily dressing. For pudding I’d like a fruit tree, please, with ripe fruit on it, and vanilla ice cream.

You still can’t cook…

Sponge cake, sponge cakes still fail me. Scones. The sort of basic baking things – except focaccia – I feel like every time I make them, I’m starting again from scratch.

What’s your favourite store cupboard essential?

I have to say pasta! Pasta, pasta, pasta.

The kitchen utensil you can’t live without is…

A little paring knife. A little cheap plastic-handled, very sharp, serrated sort of Italian granny knife, which I use for everything. In fact, I have some lovely knives, which I sometimes use but not very well, but I finally acknowledged that I’m just much happier doing everything with a small knife.

Your favourite late-night snack of choice has to be…

Cheese. So I don’t sleep either. It’s true. Cheese, cheese, cheese, cheese, cheese, cheese, cheese, big lumps of cheese.

© PA
An A-Z of Pasta: Stories, Shapes, Sauces by Rachel Roddy

Your signature dish is…

I make quite a nice roast chicken. And then maybe sort of pasta and beans, pasta and chickpeas. I often make those in the winter, thick and creamy. And in the summer I often make a sort of beanie minestrone. I’m quite good at those and I’ve made them for a lot of people. Every time I make them, I entertain fantasies about having a small restaurant – which I’m not going to do – with the big tureen in the middle.

How do you like your eggs?

Every which way. I love them. I love eggs.

As a child you ate a lot of…

We had a lot of chicken soup. And we did have a lot of shepherd’s pie. I liked everything when I was little, until I had a crisis in my teens. I liked everything. I ate everything. Liver and bacon was a great favourite. Chips.

For dinner last night you had…

Yesterday lunchtime I made the first batch of green beans and tomato, with onion and basil, stewed.

That dish is fully Roman, but it’s also really Greek. It was interesting on Instagram, people were giving all these wonderful global variations. But it is delicious and then of course by the evening, it’s so much better, with loads of olive oil, really sort of thick and slumpy. We had that last night with bread and a boiled potato in it and some really nice red wine.

Your take-out of choice is…

We have a fantastic Indian called Jaipur in Trastevere. I miss the diversity in London, even though there’s plenty in Rome, but I love that we’ve been going to Jaipur all the time I’ve been here, and my son loves it.

Your ultimate hangover cute has to be…

Coffee and a sort of sweet drink. Probably a fizzy drink, historically it was sort of Coke or better, Pepsi. In Italy they have something called Chinotto or, I have to say, slightly less than before, but another drink.

Is there anything you don’t like eating?

Funnily enough, I’ve developed an aversion to tripe, which I used to love and I’ve written about. Also I love meat, but we are eating less meat, and definitely it’s often to do with not wanting meat.