catching up


That slightly rotten looking apple hiding in the picture, the one I nearly threw away, was such a good apple. It had that curious, sweet and musty ‘Granny’s attic’ smell, which transported me down to my parent’s cellar in winter when one wall is stacked with boxes of newspaper packed Bramleys. Two weeks in the bowl and the apple had wrinkled like fingers-in-a-bath into tight, sweetness and tasted of nuts and honey. I am not even sure what the variety was! I will have to ask the apple man at the farmers market on Sunday when I buy more. The oranges in the bowl were for Kitchen Sink Tales which you can read over at The Guardian if you would like.

I have also written about winter tomato sauce and spaghetti. Ostensibly easy things, that are – I find – difficult to make well. This provokes quite strong views, all of which I am trying to embrace as I learn how to write for a newspaper. As Vincenzo would say, Coraggio, ideally with a glass of wine. This week I also mention George Clooney. You can read the article here if you like.

More soon R





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72 responses to “catching up

  1. Ignore the loonies Rachel. All journalists get them. I wouldn’t even bother reading the comments if I were you.

  2. hi Rachel- as a food lover I have always really enjoyed you blog and Guardian writing- it’s simple but beautiful- never patronising and always so evocative of a time and place. I read the comments on the article link- it’s the same with any forum, be it food or local matters, there are always a bunch of detractors who spend their time having spats with virtual adversaries- it’s not about you- it’s about them! Keep writing with love and affection and I totally agree- nobody gets a tomato sauce right…

    • rachel

      Thanks so much J, cheers to the above. On good advice I have just amended this post as I should stay on the positive. But thank you v much. RX

  3. Oh dear, it takes some patience and a hard skin to write for a newspaper it seems. I just wasted ten minutes of my life reading the comments. As a long-time fan of your writing Rach I hope the thick skin has developed and that you can happily ignore the nay-sayers. Carry on the good work and all that.
    Sending love, Kath x

  4. Oh for god’s sake. Just keep cooking and writing, woman, you’re doing fine! I’m off to make the pasta.

  5. The Millers Tale

    I really like your writing which is borne from learning to live well in a foreign land and as someone who spent part of their childhood in Latin America, I know that food is key!

    I certainly prefer your writing to some of the other food writers featured. You seem to have an intelligent investment in the subject.

  6. Love your recipes in the Guardian…the peperonata is killer.

  7. Dennis

    Beautifully and sagely written as always. Those who write comments usually do so to show how much they do (and do not) know. Not in that spirit, I hope, I will add that I prefer less water and more stirring, and that I seed the tomatoes–and that true San Marzanao tomatoes (there are many fake ones available in NYC) are miracles.

    • rachel

      I love hearing that, it is absolutely in the sprint of good cooking and eating, and I agree about the miracle of SM. I am now feeling foolish for thin skin. Cheers to you Rx

  8. Negative comments indicate people are reading…which is a good thing when you are a writer! Keep it up Rachel! I just wrote about my top ten pasta pet peeves, which, if I had any readers other than myself, would possibly draw much criticism. Maybe someday! lol Happy holidays!

  9. Woke up with a plan that involved broccoli ripassati for dinner tonight – has to be tomato sauce now, and lots of it.. To thick tomato sauce and thick skin Rachel, always!
    Federica xx

  10. Rachel, I really enjoy the way you write about food. You capture the nostalgia that I feel when I think about the food of my childhood, growing up on a farm in North Carolina. I’m fairly certain that I didn’t feel that way at the time, but the veil of years changes how I remember our chicken house, pigs, large vegetable garden, canning and preserving of foods, and the long-gone cooks who taught me how to make wonderful food with a set of guidelines and my taste buds. You have a sort of romantic view of food I think, and there aren’t too many who have that. Ignore the detractors, and continue what you do so well. I completely agree that it’s important for your column “to reflect what goes on…in kitchens; the seasonal gluts, the leftovers, one meal rolling into the next part, both planned or part-winging it in order to get supper on the table.” (This is SO accurate!!) Too many food writers and recipe developers forget that first and foremost, we have to get food on the table, that our families want to eat, sometimes in a hurry. You help us to get memorable food on the table.

    By the way, I made the broccoli ripassati last week, it was wonderful!

    • rachel

      Thank you for taking the time to leave such a thoughtful and lovely comment, It should like we have much in common when it comes to cooking (lots of winging it lately). all best to you R

  11. Carolle

    Hi Rachel
    I love your writing, doesn’t matter where it is. I really, really enjoyed the lentil salad with orange zest & mint, hubby turned up his nose at the mention of lentils but then went on to finish the dish – I’d planned on having leftovers for lunch the following day!
    BTw ignore the detractors, it doesn’t matter which forum/article etc I read there are always some naysayers, I just think some people love to be negative.

    • rachel

      I think you are right, and thank you….oh and glad for the thumbs up about the lentils, they are nice, bright but comforting, just the thing for these dark days RRx

  12. Rachel you are a wonderful writer and as difficult as it is to have unseen critics you have to remind yourself that you are writing for those who love to read you. Like any information, a smart person takes what they need from a writer and slides by the rest. It is much easier to critique than write. I appreciate all you write.

  13. Rachel,
    Never feed the Trolls, even in your psyche; it’s just not worth it.

  14. roseolson

    Yikes! I would be afraid to comment on that page with those harsh critics. True students of Italian cooking know that it is actually very basic cooking that takes a lifetime to master. I love all the lessons you are learning from Roman friends, chefs, as well as Vincenzo and his family. Keep passing them along. I found your writing pleasant and honest when I first started following your blog and it is always improving, as any good writer should strive for. There will always be haters. Keep your path.

  15. Hi Rachel!
    I love your blog and more importantly I love your recipes. Some people have never been taught do not speak until you have tried the recipe first hand. Please do not put value to these people who choose to be ignorant. Have a wonderful day!!

  16. Elizabeth Ward

    Rachel, I have been an avid reader of your blog for years and am delighted that you are writing for the Guardian. It’s always a pleasure to read and I enjoy cooking along with you which is what I feel I am doing when I follow one of your recipes. Nil carborundum. My tomato sauce recipe came to me from Rome many years ago via a young friend who was staying with a family on a school exchange. I can see that I had the germ of the idea right but now will change allegiance to you. It is also great excuse to buy a new pan; charity shops here in UK are a great source of kitchen finds by the way.

    • rachel

      and English charity shops are the best, esp in Dorset near my parents, I have brought back far too many bits lately. Thank you and I hope you have a very happy christmas. Rx

  17. I hope people didn’t complain about the article. I read it with great interest in The Guardian. Every word. I totally agree that simple things can be hard and this is such a cornerstone of Italian good, everyone had an opinion. Keep up the great work.

  18. Oh my goodness! I started reading the comments to the Guardian article; I even replied to one myself (telling a boorish, sceptical reader that the salt will pit the pan if added before the water comes to a boil) but then I had to stop. Please ignore the bad comments – they mostly seem to be from people who don’t understand the nuances of good food and good cooking. No matter what you write about, you will never please them. Instead, rest assured that you have a loyal and steady following of people who “get” what you are writing. I’m with Vincenzo on this one: corragio! (and to hell with them!)
    (Oh, here’s a tip: I find that when I’m cooking for a crowd and my pan is too heavy to bring to the sink, I use a spider or heavy duty tongs to lift the pasta out of the water into a strainer that I have resting in a bowl, next to the pasta pot.) x

    • rachel

      Thanks Tara, I feel extremely lucky to be ‘got’, the understanding that is at the heart of this blogging community R
      ps – I need to get more nifty with the spider tongues

  19. Last time I went to read one of your articles over there I was shocked by the mean-ness of some people, I much prefer to hang out with you here on wordpress, I find wordpress commenters are so much nicer. Don’t you think? As to simple being hard (and having not even read your article – please excuse me) I think you have mentioned a number of times that it begins by using the very best ingredients. I do agree. Your work is lovely.. c

    • rachel

      Some real meanies there, my skin is thickening week by week and then I get to come home here, to you all, thanks generous Cecilia.

  20. Me too, I’m was amazed by the responses on the Guardian site. But then I’m amazed by the amount of brainless people who feel the need to be negative on so many things, online or in real life. Onwards and upwards!

  21. I loved your piece in the Guardian as I do your words here. I think it’s very easy to overlook the basics and good, comforting home food in these times of ‘sous vide’ and ‘thrice cooked’. For each critic, there are probably a 100 others who, like me, are swept up in your beautiful paragraphs and appreciate the recipe.

  22. I was so transported by your description of eating that apple that I barely registered the rest of the post, still caught in the reverie of it. Then I read again and felt indignant. Your writing and your recipes are gifts.

  23. That so clearly described apple taste is very familiar. The wrinkled apple is no stranger to our fruit bowl…..on my way to the Guardian now:)

  24. …back from the Guardian with a question. Why do you advise against Puy lentils for the lentil and orange zest dish that I’m about to make with Puy lentils?

    • rachel

      That is a note from Fabrizia lanza’s original recipe, I think it is to do with the fact puy remain quite firm and don’t absorb flavors so well, at least not compared to other small lentils. I am sort of regretting it now, as it may work like a charm, but I don’t have puy here so didn’t test it, so kept FL’s note, esp in the guardian when people are very picky. Have a go, let me know, I bet it will work R

  25. Crikey, I just hiked over to the Guardian to read the comments. Some people just love being nasty and negative, don’t they? Nil carborundum, I say. I love the way you write. You cook (IMHO) from both the head and the heart. Speaking as someone who’s been cooking Italian food for years I find your tips and wrinkles enormously useful. I’ve changed the way I cook pasta, thanks to you. Ignore the plonkers and please carry on doing what you do so well. Lx

  26. Trudy

    I found your column just a few weeks ago and from there your blog. I love your evocative writing and elegantly simple recipes so much that I asked for your book as a Christmas gift. We have great food available here in the San Francisco Bay Area and your recipes are inspiring me to broaden my culinary horizons.

    Please don’t let the Guardian trolls get to you. I read recently that George Lucas of Star Wars fame has avoided the internet for 30 years in order to avoid the folks who troll his work. I wouldn’t advise you to avoid the internet, but maybe a more moderate response, such as ignoring the comments to your Guardian articles? I think the people who are really interested in your work will find their way to your blog and clearly they are a much nicer lot.

    Best wishes for the holidays.

  27. I love your pics…it makes me want to try everything you make!

  28. God…me love food…pls loves check out

  29. I’m a Guardian reader, but Guardian comments are something else. Ignore them, for goodness sake. A more vitriolic, negative bunch I have yet to … I was going to say ‘meet’. But thankfully, I haven’t met any of them. Keep cooking, keep writing for all those of us who love your recipes and your writing. Oh. And Happy Christmas too. x

  30. What can you say…I just can’t understand some people. I’ve always enjoyed your cooking and for those that don’t try your recipes, it is their loss.

  31. laura

    Isn’t it weird that a hundred people can compliment us but if one trashes us, that’s the comment we dwell on?
    I have said for years how wonderful your writing and your observations are and I know I am in excellent company and have brilliantly good taste.
    Thank you for all you have given us and continue to give us … here, in the Guardian, in your books and in your life.

  32. mrfudie

    Great recipe(:

  33. David N. Cook

    Nice – made me hungry! I like to put some grated carrot and finely diced celery in mine – is this common to any region you know of?

  34. Nadia

    Hi Rachel, I bought Five Quarters as a treat to myself this Xmas (I’m loving reading it), and my brother who lives in Rome also really likes the photos because he says they reflect the city’s true spirit, its beauty and its grit.

  35. Rachel, I like others have found your blog via the Guardian.
    I was gobsmacked at the vitriol in some of the comments following your pasta cooking / winter tomato sauce recipe. Shame on the saddos I say!
    Your advice regarding cooking pasta made absolute sense to me, and as such my pressure cooker pan has been repurposed.
    I just loved the tomato sauce, which stretched to three meals for my little family. That was using cheapo tomatos (all I had in the cupboard) and Italian seasoning from Tesco in place of fresh herbs, but cooking it long and low gave a beautiful sauce. Thanks!

  36. Wow you are writing for the guardian! This is something that I would love to see myself doing in a few years! I am eager to enter into the world of journalism and came across your blog! Your posts are wonderful, lighthearted and inspiring! I was wondering if you could give my blog a follow or a read and give me some tips as I am just getting started along side doing my A levels and am aspiring to become a journalist one day! Thanks, Chloe x

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