Things

Inside Tom Jaine’s Kitchen

13th September 2017

Interview: Letitia Clark
Photographs: Dan Dennison

The food writer and publisher defends his love of Nescafé, picks out a nickel saucepan he rescued from a pig field, and celebrates the “most enjoyable” 18th-century cookery book

INGREDIENTS

Piment d’Espelette »
“This is a special red chilli pepper which was originally cultivated in a French commune, in the northern territory of the Basque people. It now has PDO status. It’s not too hot, but is deliciously aromatic. It has become a major ingredient in Basque cookery, almost eradicating black pepper. I put it on everything.” – Tom

Nescafé Blend 37 »
“I love Nescafé. I was raised on the stuff. I know Nestlé have behaved dreadfully historically but I love the little emblem with the birds in the nest. It’s sweet. We order it in bulk and I drink 12 cups a day.”

Riverford organic full-fat milk »
“When we first moved here we started drinking fresh whole milk straight from the cow. But actually we found it rather filthy. We get this from the post office. It’s nice to support them. It is milk as it should be. It tastes and looks so different from the average shop stuff. Creamy and rich, and just the thing for a Nescafé.”

French butter
“Good cooking begins with good butter. We are never without good butter in the house.”

Alziari extra virgin olive oil (from Marseille) »
Lia extra virgin olive oil (from Greece) »
“Our youngest daughter used to work for our friends The Oil Merchant in London. Charles Carey imports some of the best olive oils we’ve ever tasted. I’m also a sucker for a lovely tin. These are both absolutely delicious, grassy and green. I make a fresh mayo with them and our homemade vinegar and we eat it with bread.”

OBJECTS

Nickel saucepan
“This was manufactured in the 19th century in Vienna. It’s very heavy. Our neighbor, Phil, was using it to feed the pigs when I spotted it and asked if I could have it. He was a little loath to part with it but it’s now one of my favourites.”

Copper daubière
“This is from France, where we picked it up in a car boot for peanuts. It’s square with a lid and rounded edges. Beans! That’s what I cook in this.”

Bread weighing scales
“These are a 20th century greengrocers’ scales, for weighing out potatoes and that sort of thing. I use them as my bread-making scales.”

Aga bread peel »
“The only cheap thing to have ever come out of an Aga catalogue. Very good for pizza and bread.”

Oval copper flambé dish
“We recently inherited this from my late mother-in-law. It has a fantastic shine and is very high quality. Such an unusually small size as well, we think it must be for bananas flambé.”

BOOKS

“As a general rule I hate recipe books because they’re deathly dull. I like food history, heavy academic stuff without photos. But there are a few that I always come back to.” – Tom

French Provincial Cooking, Elizabeth David »
“This was the chief guide for George [Perry-Smith] when he opened The Hole. David’s previous three books were nothing in comparison with the breadth of research contained here. It has been with me ever since it was published.”

Vegetable Book, Jane Grigson »
“My wife Sally cooks from this on an almost daily basis. We all knew and revered Jane (a Westcountry gal) and we absolutely depend on her recipes for anything vegetal.”

The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, Hannah Glasse »
“She was an astonishing woman, an illegitimate child and married to a pretty awful man. She went bankrupt and then wrote this book, though she was almost illiterate. It is the most enjoyable 18th-century cookery book. There are so many things that one should applaud, chiefly that she wished to educate people as well as instruct. It was not written exclusively for the upper classes, it was also written for the servants.”

Honey from a Weed, Patience Gray »
“This was, and still is, absolutely revelatory. It encapsulates a holistic view of food, cooking and life.”

Guide de l’amateur de Pain, Lionel Poilane »
“It was the book that introduced me to bread making. I’m ashamed to say I can’t remember where I found it. The account of the life of a baker in post-war France is fascinating. It was also the book that made me want to build my bread oven.”

Posted 13th September 2017

In Things

 

Interview: Letitia Clark
Photographs: Dan Dennison

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