24 surreylive.news NEWS & MAIL WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 9, 2020 HOT SEAT I don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen. I’m not going to stuff a courgette flower ELLA Mary Berry tells about the food that soothes her, lockdown and France Mary Berry isn’t averse to a little comfort food now and again WALKER T HERE is something incredibly soothing about the sound of Mary Berry’s voice. The Cordon Bleu-trained chef and telly veteran has a knack for making you feel reassured, comfy, and in the mood for something hot from the oven. Her new BBC2 series, Mary Berry’s Simple Comforts – and accompanying cookbook – captures just that, and sees the former Great British Bake Off judge criss-cross the UK and Ireland, and nip across the Channel to Paris (pre-lockdown, of course) to brush up on her crêpe making skills. The 85-year-old visits the Scottish Highlands for hotpot and husky rides; checks out the fish and chips in Whitby, Yorkshire; gets to grips with butter in Cork, Ireland; and explores the Thames by boat, meeting rowers, barge allotmenters and Michel Roux Snr (who has since died), en route. We caught up with her to talk lockdown, community spirit and eating on camera... The show sounds autumnal and cosy. What’s comfort food to you? IT’S the sort of food that the family want to come home to. The sort of food you prepare ahead – a lot of dishes in one pot. I encourage people to go with the seasons, but it’s quite difficult if you shop in a supermarket, because you don’t know the season – you get strawberries all year round. Personally, I go very much with the seasons. Now we’ve got an abundance of runner beans and we have carrots all through the summer; whatever I’m growing in the garden we use. They gave me such a good briefing as to what I was up to, and what my job was, I learned quite quickly. And then I realised we were in a race, and I had to shout very loudly, ‘Do your best!’ and, ‘You can do better!’ – and I rather enjoyed it. The river is very calming, very beautiful. enthusiasm and devotion like Graham, who was training huskies in Scotland – he loved his job. The huskies knew exactly who was boss. And you could just see these dogs, turning their heads and doing exactly what he said, the speed he wanted to go – and I was there at the back, wondering how fast we were going! Paris was a culinary adventure and even Mary’s crêpes weren’t a catastrophe And then you went up the river for lunch with Michel Roux snr? Were there any challenging moments? HE died very shortly afterwards. What an amazing man, full of knowledge and of course his cooking was second to none really, so traditionally French. It was nice to see French cooking there at (Roux’s restaurant, The Waterside Inn) Bray taking time, a lot of preparation. A lot of tradition. WHEN I was in Yorkshire, the weather was so bad I could hardly talk. The wind was blowing, and I was trying to make a paté on the quay at Whitby, and the ingredients flew off the table! I still managed to grab them. Did you garden a lot through lockdown? I CAN assure you we’ve been out there. We’ve got a new garden, and I love it. So, we’ve been getting it into shape. us every week, so I don’t need any spare food for people who drop in. I didn’t use an awful lot of tinned food – I used my freezer as my store cupboard. I made things like fish cakes – we love fish cakes – and I did batches of minced beef and a fairly basic sauce, so I could take that out of the freezer and turn it into something with pasta, or into cottage and shepherd’s pies. How do you find being filmed eating? Most people would hate having a camera in their face while scoffing something. Do you find the cooking as comforting as the eating? You also visited a river community and their barge allotments. What did you learn? I DO, because I cook what the family enjoys – and what doesn’t take too long. I don’t really want to spend hours in the kitchen. I’m not actually going to stuff a courgette flower – I’ll leave that to the restaurants. I don’t do things that take ages. I don’t do an awful lot of complicated icings on cake. I might very well put some rose petals over a cake that I’ve finished, I’ll crystallise flowers because that’s quick – primroses or something like that – but I’m not going to make a lot of sugar flowers, because that’s not me. IT doesn’t bother me at all because I’m usually rather hungry and I’ve waited for it. And I am afraid I really love food – and I’m usually tasting rather delicious things. THAT was really interesting; I didn’t know it existed. All these barges people live on, and they garden – they were growing butternut squash, fruit, all sorts of things. I thought, ‘How do they do that, in such a limited space?’ There was one barge I did my cooking on, which was the social barge where they came for musical evenings, for dancing, and it was a great hub of community. Everybody knew everybody else. It was beautifully tidy, it was fun, and full of community spirit. In Paris I went round the bakeries and tasted amazing, amazing things. I tried to make a crêpe, and of course, when somebody’s been making pancakes as a job, doing them one after another and queues of people come up to get them, all very delicious they’re amazing at it, when I have a go, I’m not as quick, not as skilled – but they tasted just as good. And when it’s not delicious? WELL, I have had to spit things out when I’ve had something that’s had salt added instead of sugar! Considering the pandemic, a show about simple, achievable comforts seems timely... More than anything, what do you hope people will take from Simple Comforts? IT’S just the right time to have simple comforts, because I think we’ve all been worried. It couldn’t be a better time to have warming comforting foods that all the family would enjoy. TO enjoy cooking, as much as I do. You always get stuck in. Did you enjoy being a cox for a team of rowers at Henley? How did you find lockdown? Mary Berry’s Simple Comforts starts on Wednesday at 8pm on BBC2, and the accompanying book, Mary Berry Simple Comforts, by BBC Books, will be available on September 17. ■ You start the series in Paris, where you studied at the Cordon Bleu – how was it? I FOUND it ok. My cooking’s changed considerably because there’s only been two of us (Mary has been married to Paul since 1966). And I know exactly that it’s just two of Of the people you met during filming, who really inspired you? IT was a bit of a shock! And then I saw the crew. They were all girls, and they were all smiling as one, and there I was as the cox. I MET so many people, the ones I particularly remember are the ones who did their jobs with great I LOVE travelling, it’s another way of getting all different recipes. PRINTED AND DISTRIBUTED BY PRESSREADER PressReader.com +1 604 278 4604 . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY ORIGINAL COPY COPYRIGHT AND PROTECTED BY APPLICABLE LAW
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