My kitchen Rus­sell Nor­man has a fam­ily space for fridge mag­nets, pin-up memos and an­tique uten­sils

The Guardian - Cook - - A Cook’s Kitchen - Rus­sell Nor­man is the co-founder of Polpo restau­rants; @rus­sel­l_nor­man

Our kitchen is the hub of fam­ily life, the fridge in par­tic­u­lar. It’s our fam­ily mes­sage board: my daugh­ters leave notes and draw­ings; I tack theatre tick­ets and util­ity bills un­der my ar­ray of mag­nets. When I’m not in Venice (where I’m writ­ing a book) I will ei­ther be in my of­fice or in the kitchen, test­ing recipes and, ac­cord­ing to my wife, us­ing ev­ery pot, pan, uten­sil and dish we own, and mak­ing the big­gest mess. It is the most im­por­tant room in the house.

For some dishes – such as seabream with crazy wa­ter – I’ve al­ways wanted to get slices of gar­lic as thin as the gang­ster mak­ing ragu in Good­fel­las, slic­ing his gar­lic with a ra­zor blade. I found this hand-forged pocket knife (1) in a cook shop in Spain. It’s as sharp as a cut-throat ra­zor, with a wooden sheaf to fold into. I use it only for gar­lic.

I picked up this trusty pasta cut­ter (2) in a flea mar­ket in a lit­tle square near the church of Mira­coli in Venice. Be­cause it’s so wonky, it gives this lovely, home­style edge to my ravi­oli. And it makes a nice sound. Oc­ca­sion­ally you see a piece of kit that isn’t use­ful, but you just like the look of it. I found this pair of scis­sors (3) at a street mar­ket in Turkey – they only cost a cou­ple of coins. Once I started to use them at home, I re­alised they were re­ally good: hand­made, with a sim­ple tight­en­ing mech­a­nism and self-sharp­en­ing blades. They’ve never gone blunt. I like kitchen short­cuts – rather than slice pancetta, I’ll use my scis­sors. So a re­ally good pair is a must.

My 1927 Gib­son L-1 (4) usu­ally hangs on the wall, next to my (non­roy­al­ist) wife’s ironic col­lec­tion of com­mem­o­ra­tive royal mugs. I play, and I have a few vin­tage gui­tars. This is one of the first com­mer­cially pro­duced gui­tars that pro­fes­sion­als used for jazz. Hand­made, and very, very rare now. I found it on Bleecker Street, in NYC, in a shop called Matt Umanov. I walked in and re­mem­ber say­ing to the

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guy I’m not in the mar­ket for an­other gui­tar. And the whole time he was show­ing things, I was look­ing at this one. I asked about it, and he said: “Oh man, this gui­tar, it’s like it’s voodoo. It speaks to me.” And I said: “Yeah, it’s speak­ing to me.” It’s got these beau­ti­ful old trans­fers on it: a ship, a shell, a par­rot and a dog, it could be Cap­tain Jack Spar­row’s gui­tar. It’s got a beau­ti­ful warm sound: not for big con­certs, as the guy in the shop said, it’s a couch gui­tar.

I don’t re­ally col­lect things, but I do love kitsch fridge mag­nets. Nasty touristy ones, in­ter­est­ing quirky ones, I have all sorts. Two char­ac­ters from My Neigh­bour To­toro – my daugh­ters love Stu­dio Ghi­bli; Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, and a set of lit­er­ary fig­ures; an oc­to­pus – which is some­thing peo­ple al­ways give me be­cause of the Polpo con­nec­tion; and, my favourite, a gi­ant plas­tic lob­ster (5) from a bucket-andspade shop in Mar­gate. It’s de­signed to wob­ble about when you close the door.

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