James Ramsden is a freelance food writer based in London. He trained at Ballymaloe Cookery School in Ireland and has written for various publications, including the Times, the Telegraph, and one-time vegan magazine Off the Hoof. He runs the Secret Larder supper club in Holloway. His first book is out in Spring 2011.
Why do you keep a food blog?
I love the immediacy of my blog. It’s a platform to write about what I like and have it published in a matter of minutes. It’s totally unrestricted and if people don’t like what you’re saying then they can tell you.
What makes English cuisine special?
There’s a lot of love in English food. It’s quite a frugal cuisine, for the most part, and so it requires care and attention to create something delicious. The old-fashioned dishes all have an inherent tradition to them, with recipes passed down for centuries. English food has soul.
What does English food say about English culture?
I think the ability of English food to make something refined out of an ingredient that isn’t necessarily refined – for example an elegant, rich broth made from oxtail – is an apt reflection of English culture. Ultimately we’re quite rough around the edges, us Brits, but on the whole make the effort to present ourselves well.
What are your favourite 'edible bits of UK culture'?
What I love about the UK is that it’s so international. I’ve talked about English, or British, cuisine, but really what’s so exciting is that we’ve got it all – British, French, Italian, Vietnamese, Mexican, Korean, Bengali etc etc. It’s all here and that makes us very, very lucky.
What’s your secret food shame?
Well, like most people, I do enjoy the odd greasy late-night kebab.
What ingredient can't you live without?
Probably onions. Or wine. They both add so much to a dish.
Tell us about something inspirational happening around food in your area.
There’s a growing trend for small dishes in London at the moment, which I love. It’s such a friendly, convivial way of dining. There’s something a bit stern about ordering a plate of food all to yourself.
What recipe do you most like to cook?
What have you learned about food from your family?
That eating together as a family is important.
Which chef have you taken inspiration from?
Well, he doesn’t call himself a chef, but Nigel Slater has always been a hero. I’m a fan of Jamie Oliver, too, for his passion and commitment.
What is your favourite recipe:
Loin of venison.
For an easy weeknight dinner?
Chicken noodle soup.
What’s your favourite food event?
Taste of London is great fun.
Anything else you’d like to share with fellow foodies?
I’d like to share my dinner with you.