Matches made in food heaven

Cook­book writer Diana Henry, from Port­stew­art, tells Ella Walker how, af­ter re­peated re­quests from pals for ideas, she de­cided to base her lat­est work on her love of com­bin­ing in­gre­di­ents and plan­ning meals

Belfast Telegraph - Weekend - - FOOD -

Menus are usu­ally things you quickly scan be­fore dis­card­ing, that you spill red wine on, or fold up to sta­bilise a wob­bly ta­ble leg. For food writer Diana Henry, though, menus are so much more than that — and not purely the do­main of restau­rants ei­ther.

“At the week­end, I’ve al­ways got friends call­ing me ask­ing, ‘Di, what can I do for a starter that’s re­ally quick?’,” she ex­plains.

“Or they’ll have de­cided on the main course but will say, ‘What can I do for a pud­ding?’

“I’m al­ways telling peo­ple what goes with what. I love the chal­lenge of stand­ing in the green­gro­cer’s and putting things to­gether.”

The Sun­day Tele­graph and Waitrose Week­end writer’s new book, How To Eat A Peach, com­bines her love of match­ing in­gre­di­ents with plan­ning meals.

“I love putting menus to­gether for no rea­son what­so­ever,” she says, re­mem­ber­ing how she’d jot down food plans as a teenager, filling a fan­tasy note­book with meals she’d cook in an ideal world.

She be­gan hav­ing peo­ple round for sup­per when she was about 16 (her par­ents had par­ties, not din­ner par­ties), and the menu plan­ning never ceased. “I do it now still,” Diana ad­mits. “I think of a menu and then I think about who would like to eat it.”

How To Eat A Peach is wo­ven through with a sense of place, with each chap­ter grounded by a mo­ment in time, a mem­ory of a place, and as a sin­gle or set of in­gre­di­ents.

“Each menu is its own lit­tle world,” says Henry, flip­ping through evoca­tively ti­tled ex­am­ples like, ‘Drunk on olive oil’, ‘Take me back to Is­tan­bul’, and ‘Mon­sieur Matuchet plays the piano’. “One of the main rea­sons I cook is to go back to places, or go to places,” she ex­plains.

Henry, now Lon­don-based with two sons of her own, trav­els a lot (Rus­sia is a cur­rent

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