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April 5, 2014

Preserving Chilies with Thomasina Miers

The Wahaca Restaurateur Pickles Peppers and Reminisces to Tarajia Morrell

Thomasina Miers has championed Mexican cuisine in Britain since she fell in love with the sights and smells of the country at age 18. In the last of our Preserving miniseries, the chef leads us through her early enchantment with Mexico’s flavors and the vigor that those peppers impart. Co-founder of Wahaca restaurants, author of Mexican Food Made Simple and the imminent Chilli Notes: Recipes to Warm the Heart (Not Burn the Tongue), Miers lovingly riffs on the range of possibilities of the ‘chili effect’ and how her zeal for spice and zeal for life are one in the same.
What is it about preserving that appeals to you?
Thomasina Miers:
Often the process improves the flavor of the food we are preserving. So cured ham, particularly when acorn fed, is an astonishingly delicious food; a marmalade or jam sometimes better than the original product—helped along by a little sugar. A pickle heightens the flavor of the vegetable with its acidity and also can lend other flavors through the spicing you use.
What is it you find so inspiring about Mexican food?
It is a cuisine of contrasting textures and temperatures, of the diversity of different food from different regions. Most of all it is fresh with bright, vivid tastes.
What's the most important lesson from your time in Mexico?
Never underestimate the power of terroir, or how food tastes in its own setting.
If you weren’t a chef, what would you be?
I would have loved to have danced. Or written more, if I had the patience. I’d have loved to have painted if I’d had the talent, or sung if I’d had the voice….
When you’re feeling lazy, what’s the simple, comforting but delicious meal you might make yourself to enjoy alone?
Welsh rarebit, or cheese on toast or sautéed greens on toast with chilli and garlic and a fried egg on top.
Guilty pleasure after a long shift?
Aphrodisiac (edible or not)?
Good music, a keen understanding, a meeting of minds, a spark of recognition.  A cocktail.
Last meal?
The best steak, the best chips, the best mayo, a delicious salad. Some very good wine. Great company.

Preserving part one: Squash with Skye Gyngell; Preserving part two: Lemons with Angela Hartnett.

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Margot Henderson: Burning Bush

Five Days of Food, Part One: The British Chef Celebrates All Things Auburn with a Fiery Banquet

Kicking off our one-week culinary extravaganza, redheaded restaurateur Margot Henderson prepares an orange-hued feast in Kim Gehrig’s dramatic short, narrated by actress, model and fellow ginger Lily Cole. “I feel my coloring has formed part of my character,” says the spirited Henderson, co-founder of the British culinary gem Rochelle Canteen, housed in a converted school bicycle shed in east London. “I wonder when my hair fades as the grey comes if you will see me sitting quietly in a corner?” Having risen to international prominence alongside husband Fergus Henderson of St. John’s restaurant and “nose-to-tail eating” fame, Margot hosted a luncheon during Frieze London 2012, exclusively for the art crowd’s ruddy-haired members. “People in the past have referred to my gingerness as ‘freaky’, so this seemed like an opportunity to celebrate the gorgeousness and oddity of the color.” Here Henderson selected Spaghetti Bottarga as the highlight of her autumnal menu, a creation featured in her latest book, You’re All Invited. The Italian dish uses dried mullet’s roe, the so-called “gold of the ocean,” alongside dazzling, phosphorescent sea urchins, which the chef washes down with a classic Negroni as she wickedly watches her fantasy banquet table erupt into flames. 


Duration of shoot

One full day.

Number of pyromaniacs keeping the set alight

Total of five: three for the flames, one for making ash and one for burning tissues


Fuel used

Hundreds of bottles of turpentine and lighter fluid


Safety precautions
Five fire extinguishers and a pile of wet towels


Number of ginger people on shoot

Eight (including Margot’s son, Hector)


Number of Negronis drunk by Margot
That would be telling…

Number of Negronis drunk by the crew

Jugs, not glasses.

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Vitamin See

A Celebration of the Citrus Fruit, the Winter Season's Energizing Unsung Hero

Waxy skin and vibrant colors provide inspiration in this new set of images from Christian Werner. To mark the United States’ National Grapefruit Month and the annual Lemon Festival in the French Riviera town of Menton, NOWNESS commissioned the German photographer to put his own spin on the oranges, lemons and abundant limes shot earlier this month at Fruit Logistica, the Berlin trade fair that was also the focus of a 2012 book by the renowned photographer Wolfgang Tillmans. “I’m familiar with that work and of course it would have been absurd to attend the fair and photograph the machines and surfaces in the same way as he did—the smooth, coldly digital, globalized world of commodities—so I looked for a different approach: appealing, interesting and humorous details which would form unexpected, witty still lifes,” explains Werner, who studied graphic design and has shown his work throughout Germany. Werner’s introduction to the world of produce fairs provided an opportunity for an unexpected get-together. “The funniest thing for me was the fact that my uncle Christoph attended the fair as an exhibitor—he invented the automatic peeling machine for asparagus, which is sold worldwide today. So we had this little family reunion.”

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