There were two moments in my life that I can still vividly remember, two moments which made me think about food differently. The first was my tenth birthday, my parents took us out for dinner to an Italian restaurant in Whitstable called Giovanni's, I think it might have even been the very first time I had been to a 'proper' restaurant? I had lamb chops. I will never forget how they tasted and my amazement at the flavour of the dried rosemary they had been sprinkled with, I had never tasted anything like it before and it was wonderful.
The second moment was just after my daughter R was born, we were staying with R's paternal grandparents for a few months. I spent a lot of time with R's Great Aunt N who lived next door. R's father would be away working on a film somewhere and her grandfather,C, would be down in the hop garden helping with the harvest. N and I would spend the mornings making soups or stews, at lunch time C and a small group of polish hop pickers would arrive for lunch. They were the simplest, most humble of lunches and the happiest of meals. Most of the ingredients were from my little vegetable garden or soups made from the biggest and most perfect Puffballs which kept appearing in The Valley that year, to this day I have never seen the like again.
During this time of discovery N gave me one of her copies of Elizabeth David's French Provincial Cooking, I read every page of it and was seduced by the modesty, the simplicity and the respectful understanding of food. I treasure this book, it is one of the tiny number of core books from which a million celebrity cook books have been spawned. Everyone should own a copy!