I didn't know what bad food was until I started school in England, where in my first home economics lesson we were taugth to wrap a grey hard-cooked egg in flourescent-pink sausage and roll this in Paxo stuffing mix. I understood immediately why the lady had bought my dad that 'Italians Do It Better' T-shirt. Thirty years on things have changed, and today eclectic Britain does it better than anyone else in the world. The Enoch Powell school of cookery never took off, and there is no flavor, other than perhaps the family dog, that is not enjoyed at modern British table.
This has not always been the case, as I imagine that war, and the country's unrelenting recover, had a lot to do with British cooking acquiring a bland reputation. My friend Harriett fondly remembers childhood meals in monochrome. The white meal, for example, would be plaice, cauliflower, boiled potatoes and semolina. A disappointing crock at the end of a gourmet rainbow when there are records of Parmesan cheese and polenta being used in well-to-do kitchens as early as 1898.
Ingredients are important and, as a mother and cook, I believe in buy in the best ingredients a household can afford. I am therefore inquisitive when it comes to provenance and loyal to the seasons. That said, it is possible to make a tasty dish for palate and purse literally out of pig's ear. I often see women at the market collecting discarded vegetables. Those ladies have the power to transform one man's rubbish into another man's feast. Kitchens are about invention and the bubble and squeak of reinvention. That is the alchemy of cooking!