Globe-trotting chef Ainsley Harriott will try just about anything. But fellow Brit Len Goodman? Not so much! "I’ve never eaten spaghetti, had a curry, and even pizza looks a bit exotic," the TV dance judge admits.
So when Harriott sets out to take the London born-and-bred Goodman on a culinary voyage of discovery in Len and Ainsley's Big Food Adventure, it's a very tasty road trip that challenges Goodman's traditional taste buds.
Len Goodman is a TV and radio host best known for his roles on several dance shows, including Strictly Come Dancing and Dancing with the Stars. The former professional dance champion's twitter handle, @GrumpyLGoodman, suggests Harriott might have quite the challenge trying to convince Goodman to try new things, but the pair clearly have lots of fun on their ten-part road trip. Along with new dishes, the show explores the social history of the places they visit, opening Goodman's eyes to lots of new things. There's even some dancing along the way!
Black pudding, dumplings and chicken feet
Harriott's mission is to travel around Britain and challenge Goodman to discover new dishes and flavours. "Over the last 20 years, there’s been a food explosion across Britain and now, no matter what you desire, every cuisine is catered for," he says. The pair kick off their journey in Manchester. "Very close to my heart," Harriott says."When I come to Manchester I get quite excited because my Dad used to live here." Their first stop is at a cafe for breakfast - but not what Goodman usually has; this is breakfast with black pudding. Their day also includes a visit to the city's Chinatown, where Goodman confesses he's never had Chinese before. After some Chinatown shopping and a lesson on making dumplings, the pair sit down to eat - and Goodman is impressed. But will he try the chicken feet? Multicultural Manchester also sees them visiting a family bakery and a Mexican restaurant, before Harriott cooks up a dish inspired by their visit to Chinatown.
A taste of Ainsley's childhood
Stop number two is the city of Bristol: there's flamenco dancing, a dip into the history of marmalade, and some authentic Jamaican food. "My parents were born in Jamaica, so I had an early passion for Caribbean food ... I’m desperate for Len to love this cuisine as closest to my heart. But I’m a bit nervous. I’m nervous because I fear he’ll not like the spicy food and it will get the better of him," Harriott confesses as the pair head to Rice & Things, a very popular Jamaican restaurant, to try curried goat, ackee and saltfish and callaloo-stuffed chicken. Will the man who's never had a curry be converted?
Fruit crumble and curry
When the pair head to Bradford, in scenic Yorkshire, Harriot says what he has planned will "test Len's palate to the max". Remember, this is a man who says his favourite foods include prawn cocktail and jam roly poly (side note - we're all for good jam roly-poly! Nothing wrong with that, Len!). Harriott eases Goodman into things with something familiar, a delicious rhubarb crumble, before moving on to try some fine Pakistani food - yes, there's a curry; and to discover unusual market produce. A visit to one of the oldest Latvian community clubs in the UK gives them a chance to try a very unusual sweet carrot and potato pie - and see some Latvian dancing!
In the kitchen
It wouldn't be a Harriott food show without some delicious dishes being whipped up. In each episode, Ainsley pops into the kitchen to cook a dish inspired by the pair's eating adventures. In Bristol, it's jerk lamb kebabs with jerk mayo, inspired by their visit to Rice & Things. After discovering Portuguese food in South London, Harriott cooks up Portuguese chicken with chargrilled red pepper and almond sauce, and there were so many requests for the recipe that he shared the recipe on his Facebook page.
A world of flavours
The culinary road trip also takes the pair to other parts of London, and Birmingham, Leicester, and Cardiff, trying many more cuisines. And does Len learn to love these new flavours? Indeed he does. "There’s tens of thousands of people in Britain who are like myself. Maybe not to the extreme, but they know what they like and that’s what they eat. And what’s been great is for me is to try these other things, and there’s a sort of fear about eating them, and there is nothing to fear at all. Because once you try them, they’re lovely," he says.
Join the road trip: Watch Len & Ainsley's Big Food Adventure Mondays 7.30pm on SBS Food from Monday 18 May and then via SBS On Demand.
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