With Fi Buchanan (Seasonal Soups)
Fi Buchanan is a food writer and chef who owned Glasgow’s legendary Heart Buchanan café and deli. Winner of a Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland award, she presented the BBC series TeenCanteen, has worked behind the scenes on many tv food shows and has given a TedX talk on courage. She lives in Glasgow and we think she is wonderful.
We asked Fi if she would write the companion volume Seasonal Salads to the best-selling Seasonal Soups by Fraser Reid, which has sold over 10k copies, and Fi said yes!
‘Salads can be anything you want them to be’ says Fi and with Seasonal Salads she created a book that celebrates salads in all their seasonal glory.
What these recipes all have in common is Fi’s trademark inventive flair, her ability to combine flavours and textures in the cleverest of ways to make the most of what’s plentiful in each season.
If you thought salads were something you served on the side, it’s time to turn over a new leaf.
We recently caught up with the lovely Fi and asked her a few questions to give us some insight into her background and her love of food and cooking.
Q: Was there a cookbook that really inspired you?
A: Yes definitely, there were three; Real Fast Food by Nigel Slater, The Silver Palate Cookbook by Sheila Lukens & Julie Rosso, and The Nantucket Open House Cookbook by Sarah Leah Chase.
I poured over those books on my work breaks, on the bus, in the laundrette, and I truly loved them. The authors seemed as if they were speaking to me like a friend as I read and the recipes were irresistibly fresh and sparkling with flavour. I wanted in.
It was 80’s Edinburgh, I was vegetarian and sick to death of boiled potatoes and brown food. I remember the first day I ever tried fresh basil, the first day I ever tried a kiwi fruit, the first day I tried the Italian mountain cheese Taleggio … literally … I can remember where I was and what I was wearing. It was like getting the key to a door into a technicolour world from a black and white world.
Q: What is your favourite item in your kitchen that you simply couldn’t do without?
A: Well for practicalities sake I’d be an idiot if I didn’t say my knife. A very plain – non designer – wooden handled, easy to sharpen, 20cm cooks knife.
After that I’d have to say the music and podcasts on my phone. They set the tempo for me – giving me energy, soothing my hot brain, educating me, talking me … or dancing me … through the solitary days and nights in the kitchen for the past few years.
Q: Do you have a favourite song, type of music or podcast you like to cook to?
A: My musical taste is eclectic, I make playlists all the time, and my son has caught the bug, and laughs at me for calling them tape-mixes. A good mix is a magical thing, very similar to a good dish, it has to match your mood and then find you and lift you a little. When you share what you’ve made it’s a deeply personal thing, and if someone you like appreciates it, it can generate deep joy in you.
I’ve made a tape mix for each of the 12 months of salads in the book. Here is the QR code for January’s playlist:
Q: If you could cook anywhere in the world in any location then where would you choose?
A: Hmm. Would I be cooking for my friends & family? If I could bring them with me there are some pretty nice beaches in the Virgin Islands I’d quite like to go back to.
I’ve always thought that a vineyard in Chile would be a great place to hang out and cook up a storm.
However, if the forces of magic were at work (oh please let them be), I’d conjure an amphitheatre of growing walls full of veggies and herbs, and wood fired ovens. I’d put it in every single school in the land and we’d make huge platters of salads, big vats of soup, and homemade bread everyday for lunch. I know it sounds a bit far out, but could you imagine?! It would be so good. That would be magic that’d make more magic.
5. If you had to give one single piece of advice about cooking to someone then what would that be?
My one single piece of advice to you would be to cook the food you like. You can’t get your mojo from food you don’t like. Motivation is the unstoppable force. Be motivated by what you love. Do yourself proud, then share it with people you love.
Massive thanks to Fi for a truly inspiring chat. Her Seasonal Salads cookbook is now available in all good book stores and of course direct from us right HERE