Food for thought

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We’re leaving the slopes and returning to the UK soon from Val Thorens for a few days to celebrate Christmas with our “UK children” – and one of the things we’ll do, like everyone else, is enjoy some family time over a good meal.

I love to eat well and I think food is one of life’s great pleasures. I really enjoy eating dishes that are made with lots of fresh, organic, locally sourced foods, as I really think the way that food is produced is of the utmost importance when it comes to nutrition – and taste. What we put into our bodies is so important to our health and well-being, and I totally agree with Hippocrates, who said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

Great food doesn’t have to be expensive or pretentious, though. It’s all about choosing the right produce and cooking it well; authenticity is definitely the key when it comes to great gastronomy.

I’m a pretty good cook, particularly when it comes to the grill. Growing up in South Africa, a braai, our version of the barbecue, was a big event that brought family and friends together. And I still love this social and casual way of dining. Aside from that, the meat is prepared and cooked in a special way which makes it absolutely delicious.

But no matter how well I cook I am not as good as Lorna – and at Christmas she and our cook will whip up a magnificent feast for us all to sit and enjoy together. The family that eats together is a happy one, I think – food is not just for nutrition, but it’s a social activity. Preparing a meal for someone with care is a way to show them that you love them.

Perhaps that is why food is so central at Christmas – or indeed any big celebration in life. It binds us, it feeds us and it reminds us of how lucky we are. This is especially true when there are many in the world who do not have the luxury of eating abundantly.

For me, there’s nothing better than simple combinations of ingredients – you can definitely over-fuss food and lose the thing that made it great in the first place.

Classic Mediterranean food hits this mark for me – fresh and simple, with bags of taste. When we’re spending time on our boat in the south of France, our favourite restaurant is The African Queen; it’s in a great spot with a terrace overlooking the yachts in Beaulieu-sur-Mer and serves simple but delicious Mediterranean cuisine. The menu changes regularly, to make full use of seasonal specialities, and the selection is diverse but always features plenty of colourful salads, classic fish dishes and the finest cuts of meat.

Having said that, the skills of great chefs are alchemy – turning ingredients into incredible taste sensations. Among the chefs I admire are Simon Rogan at Fera at Claridge’s and Michel Roux Jr at Le Gavroche, both of whom are food magicians. Eating in their restaurants is a special experience to be savoured.

But ultimately I always bring food back to home – which is where I enjoy it most. Whether that’s a simple but delicious breakfast of eggs, toast and coffee after Lorna and I have done our morning marathon training run or a big meal that brings all my lovely family together, good food is a taste of what life is really about.

Happy Christmas from me and my family to you and your family! I’ll be back in 2016….

Norman-Peires-Christmas

Places I love to eat

La Fruitière, Val d’Isère, France…for hearty food while you’re skiing in Val Thorens and Val d’Isère

The Wolseley, London, UK…for classic cooking and stylish surroundings

Trio, Bondi, Australia…for brunch, relaxed lunches and great vibes

Uno Con Carne, Mykonos, Greece…for superb steak

The African Queen, Beaulieu-sur-Mer, France…fresh Med food – and plenty of it

For great food and travels, visit….Italian sagre food festivals

Some of my favourite recipes…..are here….let me know which ones you try!

For great steak in London….try Hawksmoor

These are the secrets to good BBQ around the world….but of course South African braais are the best!

Norman-Peirees-crackers