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Digital Subscriptions > Delicious Magazine > April 2018 > “I’ve fallen for so many places through food that it sometimes feels as if my life has been a series of affairs”

“I’ve fallen for so many places through food that it sometimes feels as if my life has been a series of affairs”

The joys of ripe Mediterranean fruit are just one of the things food writer Diana Henry reminisces about in her new book of menus and memories, How to Eat a Peach. The eagerly awaited work combines her love of food and lust for travel, twin passions nurtured from her earliest days. The menu she shares here is inspired by her many journeys to France, where she lost her heart as a teenager and which lays claim to it still

THE MENU

Book of the month.

DIANA’S FRENCH MENU FOR 4

Kir Breton

A sharing starter of leeks with Breton vinaigrette, pork rillettes, charcuterie, hard-boiled eggs & crusty bread

Mouclade

Crepes dentelles with apples and caramel

When I was 16 I started to keep a menu book, a school exercise book I’d carefully covered in wrapping paper. This was an odd obsession because I didn’t cook the majority of the menus I created; I would’ve needed a restaurant to get through them all. The pleasure was in putting the menus together.

I still have the notebook. Most of the meals are simple: cucumber salad with dill and soured cream, goulash, baked autumn fruit, crudités (the kind I’d had in France), poulet bonne femme, galette aux pommes. There are no dishes from some of the cuisines I now love – the Middle East or Vietnam, for example – and there are a few oldfashioned, embarrassingly complicated menus I wouldn’t dream of attempting these days: buckwheat blinis with warm butter, soured cream and smoked salmon; guinea fowl breasts in pastry with duxelles and madeira sauce; Grand Marnier soufflé. I did actually cook this. Was I mad?

I gave my first ‘dinner party’ soon after I started keeping my menu book. My school friends were bemused by the candlelit room (I’d gone over the top). “Are we going to celebrate Mass?” one asked but I continued, undaunted. I loved ‘having people over’ but, even more, I loved putting a menu together. It’s still my favourite bit of cooking. I don’t issue invitations and then wonder what to cook – I come up with a menu and wonder who would like to eat it.

Why did I decide to write a whole book of menus when people can compose their own? Because I get asked more questions about menus than anything else. Friday nights and Saturday mornings bring endless phone calls and texts from friends preparing meals for Saturday night who’ve decided on a main course but don’t know what to have for pudding, and everybody wants a quick starter. “Will these dishes work together?” is something I’m frequently asked.

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About Delicious Magazine

The April issue of delicious. is here to take you on exciting taste adventures. Diana Henry recalls how her passion for French food was love at first bite, James Martin discovers cheesy meatballs in Texas and Ravinder Bhogal cooks exotic sweet and savoury recipes using caramel. Closer to home, Gill Meller puts pigeon back on the menu and Debbie Major flies the flag for the great British macaroon. Plus, Dan Doherty’s new roast chicken, easy midweek meals from your freezer and much, much more.