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Christmas Presents

The stuff food memories are made of…

We’re thrilled to welcome Olia Hercules as our food writer in residence this month and next. Born in Ukraine and now living in London, Olia knows all about the connection between memory, place and taste – and the importance of being connected to your food roots. This menu recalls the flavours and techniques of brilliant cooks Olia met while researching the food of Georgia. Try the recipes and be transported

OLIA HERCULES

Food writer in residence No 3

I’m often asked whether I was taught to cook by my mother or grandmother. They are the best cooks I know and they influence my cooking and writing so much now, but the truth is, I wasn’t interested in cooking when I was younger. I only started cooking, even obsessing over cooking, here in the UK when I was in my early 20s.

I remember the first cake I attempted, a Genoese-type sponge that my mum called ‘biskvit’, which I missed enormously. I called my Italian friend Gabriella (an amazing cook) into my kitchen and presented her with something that looked like a flan at best, or like a pancake at worst. I clearly did not whisk hard enough. We laughed and we cried, and she promised to guide me the next time.

That same year (I must have just turned 20), feeling particularly homesick, I tried to make a Central Asian dish my Siberian gran used to make called ‘beshbarmak’ – layers of pasta sheets, poached chicken and onions slow-cooked in chicken fat. Being a poor student, I bought everything from the supermarket. The dish tasted awful.

I didn’t understand why it went so wrong, why it didn’t taste as I remembered it; my cooking was much better by then – even the pasta would turn out fine.

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About Delicious Magazine

The September issue of delicious. is packed with great cooking: there’s a Ukrainian feast from Olia Hercules, a relaxed Persian menu from Sabrina Ghayour, Bruno Loubet’s incredible mushroom burger, Richard Bertinet’s end-of-summer pudding and Thane Prince’s foolproof jam-making feature. Our bigger midweek section is also filled with inspiration for exciting and healthy meals that are simple to cook but deliver on flavour. Plus improve your kitchen skills with our guide to sourdough, making a pastry lattice and step-by-step biryani.
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