I visit Istanbul every year and I’ve never failed to be inspired by the culture, the food, the people and the city’s mesmerizing history. The Spice Bazaar sells everything including dried fruits, nuts and caviar. The Grand Bazaar is my shopping heaven (you can buy everything from souvenirs to diamonds). The heavy scent of spices fills the streets and the call to prayer reaches every corner of the city five times a day. Turks are very welcoming to tourists and treat you with a lot of respect. Some of my favourite Turkish recipes include Kisir, Fasulye Piyazi, Börülce Salatası and Etli Nohut.
I grew up in the beautiful town of Marbella (which literally means beautiful sea in Spanish). Nowadays, this is known as a party town, but many years ago it was just a fishing village. I go home every year and look forward to the tasty tapas and succulent seafood with much anticipation. You don’t have to spend a fortune to eat well in Spain. In fact, the expensive places are definitely not where the best food comes from. The smell of grilled seafood and paellas fill the streets at lunchtime. Grilled octopus is my all time favourite and it is certainly made best in Spain. Some of my favourite Spanish recipes include Gazpacho Andaluz, Gambas Pil Pil, Pimientos del Padron and Pimientos a la Parilla.
I lived in New York for five years and it has been a big inspiration to me, not because of American food particularly, but because of the vast supply of middle eastern ingredients available. I found artichoke hearts, baby okra, molokhia and all the wonderful Arabic ingredients I love to cook with. This is because New York is a cosmopolitan melting pot where everything is available (literally!).
This is where I live at the moment and it is one of the most diverse cities in the world. I can find anything I need to cook with here and there is an abundance of middle eastern restaurants. The downside of the UK is the weather. But the upside is that this inspires me to cook even more and try out new recipes, so having the ingredients available whenever I need them is great.
Rome is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve visited and the ancient ruins of the roman empire surround the city with all it’s glory. Italians are renowned for pasta and pizza, but the breadth of their cuisine goes beyond ones imagination. One of my favourite Italian recipes which is so simple yet has an abundance of taste is Aglio e Olio. I’m also a big fan of Arrabbiata with Black Olives.