Food For Thought

Series of conversations in which journalist Nina Myskow discovers how attitudes to food affect individual lives.

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0101Afternoon Tea At The Ritz With Joan Rivers2009091320100405
20090913 (BBC7)
20131110 (BBC7)

Nina Myskow discusses food-related fear and self-loathing with comedian Joan Rivers.

Journalist Nina Myskow discovers how attitudes to food, shape and affect individual lives.

Over tea and chocolate tart in a suite at The Ritz, comedian Joan Rivers recounts a lifetime of self-loathing and fear of being fat. She recalls the shock of discovering she wasn't beautiful, her mother's advice on dinner parties and an extraordinary daily diet of vitamin pills, low calorie ice cream sandwiches and cereal with whipped cream.

The producer is Tamsin Hughes, and this is a Wise Buddah production for BBC Radio 4.

Nina Myskow discusses food-related fear and self-loathing with comedian Joan Rivers.

Over tea and chocolate tart in a suite at the Ritz, comedian Joan Rivers recounts a lifetime of self-loathing and fear of being fat.

She recalls the shock of discovering she wasn't beautiful, her mother's advice on dinner parties and an extraordinary daily diet of vitamin pills, low-calorie ice cream sandwiches and cereal with whipped cream.

Comedian Joan Rivers recounts a lifetime of self-loathing and fear of being fat.

0101Joan Rivers20090913

0101Joan Rivers2009091320141226 (R4)

Journalist Nina Myskow discovers how attitudes to food, shape and affect individual lives.

Over tea and chocolate tart in a suite at The Ritz, comedian Joan Rivers recounts a lifetime of self-loathing and fear of being fat. She recalls the shock of discovering she wasn't beautiful, her mother's advice on dinner parties and an extraordinary daily diet of vitamin pills, low calorie ice cream sandwiches and cereal with whipped cream.

The producer is Tamsin Hughes, and this is a Wise Buddah production for BBC Radio 4.

0102Making Porridge With Erwin James2009092020100406
20090920 (BBC7)
20131117 (BBC7)

The bags of oats at one prison where Erwin James was an inmate were all stamped 'Canadian pig meal, grade 3'.

The porridge was made with water.

However, as Erwin explains, adding full cream milk, honey and pine nuts to his own breakfast recipe, they were an important part of his diet and rehabilitation, after a chaotic itinerant lifestyle and living rough as a child.

Journalist and former prisoner Erwin James explains the part food has played in his life.

Nina Myskow talks porridge, prison and stealing school dinners with lifer Erwin James.

Journalist Nina Myskow discovers how attitudes to food, shape and affect individual lives.

The bags of oats at one prison, where journalist and lifer Erwin James was an inmate, were all stamped "Canadian pig meal, grade 3". The porridge was made with water. However, as Erwin explains to Nina Myskow, adding full cream milk, honey and pine nuts to his own breakfast recipe, they were an important part of his diet and his rehabilitation, after a chaotic itinerant lifestyle and living rough as a child.

The producer is Tamsin Hughes, and this is a Wise Buddah production for BBC Radio 4.

0103Elevenses With Nigella Lawson2009092720100407
20090927 (BBC7)
20131124 (BBC7)

Nina Myskow discusses veal stew and vanity with cookery writer Nigella Lawson.

Journalist Nina Myskow discovers how attitudes to food, shape and affect individual lives.

At home in her kitchen, cookery writer Nigella Lawson recalls her early experiences of food, as a chamber maid in Italy, whisking white sauces for her mother and making veal stew and rabbit with prunes on a teenage visit to France. She tells Nina Myskow how they transformed her from a quiet, introverted child who resisted her mother's appeals to eat at mealtimes into a passionate cook with a lust for food and an incredibly healthy appetite.

The producer is Tamsin Hughes, and this is a Wise Buddah production for BBC Radio 4.

At home in her kitchen, cookery writer Nigella Lawson recalls her early experiences of food - as a chamber maid in Italy, whisking white sauces for her mother and making veal stew and rabbit with prunes on a teenage visit to France.

She tells Nina how they transformed her from a quiet, introverted child who resisted her mother's appeals to eat at mealtimes into a passionate cook with a lust for food and an incredibly healthy appetite.

At home in her kitchen, Nigella Lawson recalls her early experiences of food.

0104Shabbat-eve With Rabbi Lionel Blue2009100420100408
20091004 (BBC7)
20131201 (BBC7)

With the table set for Shabbat-eve, Lionel Blue looks back on his unorthodox life.

As Britain's first openly gay Rabbi, often referred to as 'cherub-faced', he tells Nina how food has been inextricably linked with personal transformation, from changing tastes and a fluctuating waistline to transformed circumstances and shifting beliefs.

However, he still remembers watching his grandmother cooking potato latkes and eating them on toast or with apple sauce.

It was the kind of food that fed the family, the neighbours and, he implies, the soul.

Nina Myskow discusses life, love and potato latkes with Rabbi Lionel Blue.

Journalist Nina Myskow discovers how attitudes to food, shape and affect individual lives.

With the table set for Shabbat-eve, Lionel Blue looks back on his unorthodox life. As Britain's first openly gay Rabbi, often referred to as "cherub-faced", he tells Nina how food has been inextricably linked with personal transformation, from changing tastes and a fluctuating waistline to transformed circumstances and shifting beliefs. However, he still remembers watching his grandmother cooking potato latkes and eating them on toast or with apple sauce. It was the kind of food that fed the family, the neighbours and, he implies, the soul.

The producer is Tamsin Hughes, and this is a Wise Buddah production for BBC Radio 4.

0105 LASTJung Chang2009101120100409
20091011 (BBC7)
20131208 (BBC7)

Nina Myskow discovers how food and Sichuan spice shaped celebrated author Jung Chang.

Journalist Nina Myskow discovers how attitudes to food, shape and affect individual lives.

Settled over a lunch of ma po tofu and bitter melon greens, celebrated author Jung Chang recalls a life of adjustments and accommodations to place, identity and food. She describes the powerful memories evoked by a plate of double-cooked pork, spiked with her native Sichuan spice and discusses her changing tastes since arriving in Britain and the success of her memoir Wild Swans.

The producer is Tamsin Hughes, and this is a Wise Buddah production for BBC Radio 4.

Settled over a lunch of ma po tofu and bitter melon greens, author Jung Chang recalls a life of adjustments and accommodations to place, identity and food.

She describes the powerful memories evoked by a plate of double-cooked pork, spiked with her native Sichuan spice, and discusses her changing tastes since arriving in Britain and the success of her memoir, Wild Swans.

0201David Sedaris20111226

0201David Sedaris2011122620141223 (R4)

Over takeaway sushi in his London kitchen, American essayist and humorist David Sedaris talks to Nina Myskow about being greedy, good at dieting - for his regular book tours - and how he stopped wanting to eat the condiments after he gave up smoking drugs.

David's large, idiosyncratic family must play some part in his obsession with second helpings. From a thrifty father who hoarded titbits and clipped money-off coupons for the weekly grocery shop to a mother who spent hours in conversation with her six children around the dinner table, he still worries that there'll never be enough.

His boyfriend orders for him in restaurants and cooks elaborate meals like rabbit in mustard and cream sauce but he still relishes the thought of a huge hamburger called the 'Widow-maker' and a side order of spinach that comes in a dish the size of a mixing bowl.

"The hard thing about being on a diet is getting off of it" he explains, before recounting the unpleasant side effects of some French pharmacy diet pills he took, in order to get into his 'tour pants.' Eating on tour can be difficult so he orders supper at each venue and takes a bite in between signing books.

He also tells Nina about his love of Mr Whippy ice cream, sticky toffee pudding and why eating chocolate is like eating drain cleaner.

What would he choose for his last meal on earth? A comforting dish his mother used to make.

Producer: Tamsin Hughes

A Wise Buddah production for BBC Radio 4.

0201David Sedaris2011122620131224

Over takeaway sushi in his London kitchen, American essayist and humorist David Sedaris talks to Nina Myskow about being greedy, good at dieting - for his regular book tours - and how he stopped wanting to eat the condiments after he gave up smoking drugs.

David's large, idiosyncratic family must play some part in his obsession with second helpings. From a thrifty father who hoarded titbits and clipped money-off coupons for the weekly grocery shop to a mother who spent hours in conversation with her six children around the dinner table, he still worries that there'll never be enough.

His boyfriend orders for him in restaurants and cooks elaborate meals like rabbit in mustard and cream sauce but he still relishes the thought of a huge hamburger called the 'Widow-maker' and a side order of spinach that comes in a dish the size of a mixing bowl.

"The hard thing about being on a diet is getting off of it" he explains, before recounting the unpleasant side effects of some French pharmacy diet pills he took, in order to get into his 'tour pants.' Eating on tour can be difficult so he orders supper at each venue and takes a bite in between signing books.

He also tells Nina about his love of Mr Whippy ice cream, sticky toffee pudding and why eating chocolate is like eating drain cleaner.

What would he choose for his last meal on earth? A comforting dish his mother used to make.

Producer: Tamsin Hughes

A Wise Buddah production for BBC Radio 4.

"The hard thing about being on a diet is getting off of it" he explains, before recounting the unpleasant side effects of some French pharmacy diet pills he took, in order to get into his 'tour pants.' Eating on tour can be difficult so he orders supper at each venue and takes a bite in between signing books.

Nina Myskow in conversation with David Sedaris about how his family affected his eating.

0202Yoko Ono20111227

0202Yoko Ono2011122720141222 (R4)

Yoko Ono discusses the virtues of vegetables with journalist Nina Myskow.

Although reluctant to let even the tiniest piece of inferior confectionery pass her lips, artist and musician Yoko Ono reveals why she finally fell in love with one particular food. She explains that one of husband, John's pleasures was chocolate and how it came to comfort her.

A long time devotee of macrobiotics, Yoko tells Nina about the experiences that shaped her tastes: from a Japanese diet low in animal fat to the years, during World War II, when she was evacuated from Tokyo. She made rice and miso soup for her siblings, longed for butter and was forced to barter for food.

Odd then perhaps that several years later she would go on a forty day fast with John Lennon.

She explains why.

Yoko also shares her passion for fish and chips, as well as Korean pickles. And how did she make John eat sushi?

Producer: Tamsin Hughes

A Wise Buddah production for BBC Radio 4.

0202Yoko Ono2011122720131227

Chips, cabbage and chocolate? Yoko Ono discusses her life in food with Nina Myskow.

Yoko Ono discusses the virtues of vegetables with journalist Nina Myskow.

Although reluctant to let even the tiniest piece of inferior confectionery pass her lips, artist and musician Yoko Ono reveals why she finally fell in love with one particular food. She explains that one of husband, John's pleasures was chocolate and how it came to comfort her.

A long time devotee of macrobiotics, Yoko tells Nina about the experiences that shaped her tastes: from a Japanese diet low in animal fat to the years, during World War II, when she was evacuated from Tokyo. She made rice and miso soup for her siblings, longed for butter and was forced to barter for food.

Odd then perhaps that several years later she would go on a forty day fast with John Lennon.

She explains why.

Yoko also shares her passion for fish and chips, as well as Korean pickles. And how did she make John eat sushi?

Producer: Tamsin Hughes

A Wise Buddah production for BBC Radio 4.

discusses the virtues of vegetables with journalist Nina Myskow.

0203Andy Mcnab2011122820131228

'What do you want before the chip shop closes?' was the phrase former Special Forces soldier Andy McNab got used to as a child. In Food For Thought, he describes his transition from a thirty-six-inch-waisted 'fat kid' to fit career soldier, after a spell in juvenile detention. Joining the army meant decent food and regular meal times. You could be up on a charge if you didn't eat breakfast before Queen's Parade.

Over spam, pick'n'mix and with condensed milk in his cuppa, Andy talks to Nina Myskow about feeling looked after by the army, the daily rituals of preparing dinner in huge Dixie pots and how he cooked on an army Hexy burner in the kitchen sink when he bought his first house. He was worried about the gas bill. These days, he doesn't cook much but makes 'Desperate Dan' sausage and mash for a family special occasion. And, after a life in the military, the novelty of eating out still hasn't worn off.

Andy also details the realities and deprivations of war time capture and there's a frank revelation about the worse thing he's ever eaten. Not for the squeamish. It's all rather different to the boiled eggs and chocolate given to him by the Red Cross on his release, and the expensive kobe beef he has sampled since.

Producer: Tamsin Hughes

A Wise Buddah production for BBC Radio 4.

From fat kid to fit soldier, Andy McNab talks about his life in food with Nina Myskow.

0204Judith Kerr2011122920131231

Settled in a local Italian restaurant that's become a home from home, much-loved children's author and illustrator, Judith Kerr reminisces with Nina Myskow about the food that brings back memories of her peripatetic childhood.

Known to generations of children as the author of the Mog picture books and The Tiger Who Came To Tea, Judith was born in Berlin but was forced to flee Hitler's Germany with her parents and brother in 1933. An exile in Switzerland and France before arriving in England, prior to the Second World War, she explains the importance of food and family, especially during the Blitz.

What did she miss? Iced kuchen with nuts in a Berlin cafe or a birthday cake made with love, and strawberries, by the housekeeper they left behind? In London her father eked out a jar of fish paste for lunch every day. Turnip pie was a staple. She bought two ounces of toffee for the air raid. What did the family eat when, as refugees, it was difficult to make ends meet?

In The Tiger Who Came To Tea, Judith's fictional family eat sausage and chips at a cafe after the tiger eats them out of house and home. In her books, food is for sharing. It's celebratory. Mog's reward for catching a burglar is a boiled egg for breakfast. Still writing, with grown up children and grandchildren, but without her husband Tom who died in 2006, how enjoyable is eating these days? And what does Judith feed her cat?

Producer: Tamsin Hughes

A Wise Buddah production for BBC Radio 4.

Nina Myskow and children's author Judith Kerr on the meals that make a place home.

Settled in a local Italian restaurant that has become a home from home, much-loved children's author and illustrator, Judith Kerr reminisces with Nina Myskow about the food that brings back memories of her peripatetic childhood.

Known to generations of children as the author of the Mog picture books and The Tiger Who Came To Tea, Judith was born in Berlin but was forced to flee Hitler's Germany with her parents and brother in 1933. She recalls the cherry soup made by their German housekeeper and explains that the food in Paris, where they were briefly exiled, was a revelation. She loved the garlic, snails and mussels and remembers that she and her brother drank wine, because nobody trusted the drinking water.

As a refugee in London, she could barely afford the price of a cup of tea and a bath bun but during the war, she visited Claridges with her employer. She got a little tipsy but felt that she didn't really belong there. It was only after she met her late husband, Tom, whom she recalls with fondness, that she feels she really fitted in.

Amongst the warm descriptions of family mealtimes and disastrous dinner parties, Judith also reveals the favourite treat of her cat Katinka. And despite the loss of her husband and, increasingly, her appetite, Nina discovers, Judith continues to work constantly and is appreciative of both the world around her and her wonderfully rich life.

0205Carlos Acosta20111230

0205 LASTCarlos Acosta20111230

0205 LASTCarlos Acosta2011123020141225 (R4)

In a rehearsal studio at the Royal Opera House, over an impromptu picnic of tostones (fried plantains) and moros y cristianos (rice with black beans), dancer Carlos Acosta recalls a lifetime of counting the carbs, and his blessings, during a successful career in ballet.

From the food ration in his native Cuba, to the abundance of sugar on the island that left him with an explicably sweet tooth, Carlos tells Nina about stealing mangoes as a boy to fund trips to the cinema. He also explains how, arriving in Europe as a teenager, he had to adapt his tastes, his attitudes and his body. He eats a steak before each performance and avoids carbohydrates after six o'clock, despite the fact that he dances for over eight hours almost every day of the week.

Eating well is crucial to Carlos' livelihood and eating badly could end his career but the Royal Ballet's principal guest artist still chows down on ice cream, chicken korma and gets drunk, occasionally. He also tells Nina where you can get the perfect mojito.

Producer: Tamsin Hughes

A Wise Buddah production for BBC Radio 4.

0205 LASTCarlos Acosta2011123020140101

In a rehearsal studio at the Royal Opera House, over an impromptu picnic of tostones (fried plantains) and moros y cristianos (rice with black beans), dancer Carlos Acosta recalls a lifetime of counting the carbs, and his blessings, during a successful career in ballet.

From the food ration in his native Cuba, to the abundance of sugar on the island that left him with an explicably sweet tooth, Carlos tells Nina about stealing mangoes as a boy to fund trips to the cinema. He also explains how, arriving in Europe as a teenager, he had to adapt his tastes, his attitudes and his body. He eats a steak before each performance and avoids carbohydrates after six o'clock, despite the fact that he dances for over eight hours almost every day of the week.

Eating well is crucial to Carlos' livelihood and eating badly could end his career but the Royal Ballet's principal guest artist still chows down on ice cream, chicken korma and gets drunk, occasionally. He also tells Nina where you can get the perfect mojito.

Producer: Tamsin Hughes

A Wise Buddah production for BBC Radio 4.

Dancer Carlos Acosta explains how what we eat, shapes the life we lead. With Nina Myskow.

0301Terence Stamp20130701

Actor Terence Stamp shares the joys of raw fruit and vegetables and the delight of the alphonso mango with Nina Myskow.

Raised in Plaistow, East London, one of five children to a tugboat-owner father, when he took himself off to drama school the joke was he would do anything for a bowl of soup. Catapulted to 60s icon status and finally able to afford rich food, Terence describes the effect steak and kidney pudding had on his health.

Attuned to the creative possibilities of brown rice, Terence discusses life as a food intolerant, from designing his own dinners, to how he stays healthy. Plus how he shocked Brigitte Bardot, the roast potatoes his mother used to make and how he loves to indulge his passion for an alphonso mango.

0302Angela Georghiu20130702

Over Afternoon Tea, world-renowned Romanian soprano Angela Gheorghiu tells Nina Myskow about scarcity and abundance, being spoon-fed by her mother, feasting on cakes and how to sweeten cabbage.

Growing up under the Ceausescu communist regime in Romania, the opera singer remembers standing in endless lines for rations and what you could get on the black market. Despite the hardships she describes the Romanian knack for feeding and generous hospitality.

Accompanied by a glass of champagne, Angela delights in homemade Romanian cozonac cake, a sweet fruit and nut-filled bread, eaten as a celebration cake especially around religious festivals. Feted for her prodigious musical talent at an early age, she studied at the Academy of Music in Bucharest, where she sometimes struggled to indulge her sweet tooth. Leaving Romania for the first time in her mid-20s, she describes her wonder at the shops full of food and produce.

Plus Angela remembers meeting her ex-husband-to-be, the tenor Roberto Alagna and reveals if, during her rare moments at home, she is now eating alone.

Producer: Rebecca Maxted

A Wise Buddah Production for BBC Radio 4.

0303Mary Portas20130703

0303Mary Portas2013070320141224 (R4)

At breakfast at her favourite local cafe, retail guru Mary Portas remembers fighting for scraps as the fourth child in a large Irish family in the 1970's.

As the government's 'Queen of Shops', she tells Nina Myskow where her passion for the local High Street comes from, when at the age of 16, Mary lost her mother and needed to provide for herself and her younger brother Lawrence.

Over porridge and a flat white, she contemplates the emotion and experiences behind her love of good food and a full fridge. With another young mouth to feed who does the cooking now in her household?

Plus she talks about the relationship between food and sex and admits to a love of fine wine and cheap chocolate.

Producer: Rebecca Maxted

A Wise Buddah production for BBC Radio 4.

0303Mary Portas20130703

At breakfast at her favourite local cafe, retail guru Mary Portas remembers fighting for scraps as the fourth child in a large Irish family in the 1970's.

As the government's 'Queen of Shops', she tells Nina Myskow where her passion for the local High Street comes from, when at the age of 16, Mary lost her mother and needed to provide for herself and her younger brother Lawrence.

Over porridge and a flat white, she contemplates the emotion and experiences behind her love of good food and a full fridge. With another young mouth to feed who does the cooking now in her household?

Plus she talks about the relationship between food and sex and admits to a love of fine wine and cheap chocolate.

Producer: Rebecca Maxted

A Wise Buddah production for BBC Radio 4.

0304James Cracknell20130704

0304James Cracknell2013070420140102

Rower and adventurer James Cracknell on endurance food and losing senses.

4/5 James Cracknell

Rower, adventurer and endurance athlete James Cracknell shares his secrets for fuelling a body capable of winning two Olympic Gold medals. He describes nutrient-dense carbs and how he has had to balance his calorie intake with the energy he burns in extreme conditions, from the Sahara to the South Pole.

James discusses how his food habits have changed since losing his sense of taste and smell following brain damage sustained in a serious bike accident. Does a restaurant supper still hold any attraction for him or is he focused on the nutritional value of food now more than ever?

He describes his increased sensitivity to texture and introduces Nina to the hot sauces that he uses to stimulate his taste buds. Over carrots in chilli sauce Nina offers James some sweet treats, as James describes the impact losing his sense of taste has had on his life.

Producer: Rebecca Maxted

A Wise Buddah production for BBC Radio 4.

Rower, adventurer and endurance athlete James Cracknell shares his secrets for fueling a body capable of winning two Olympic Gold medals. He describes nutrient-dense carbs and how he has had to balance his calorie intake with the energy he burns in extreme conditions, from the Sahara to the South Pole.

0305 LASTHelene Darroze20130705

5/5 Helene Darroze

05/07/2013

Programme Number: 134A6003

Top chef Helene Darroze tells Nina Myskow about the moment she realized she wanted to devote her life to cooking and food.

Born in the South of France, her family boasted four generations of cooks down her father's side. Taught to cook pastries from the age of 5, Helene looked outside of the family business for her goals and ambitions when she was growing up. Over home-cooked pasta in her small London kitchen, she remembers the epiphany moment that changed the course of her life.

Describing her emotional and instinctive approach to cooking, she explains why some of her signature dishes have a Vietnamese flavour. With restaurants across Europe how does she juggle her demanding schedule with bringing up two adopted daughters as a single Mum? And how did she feel when her rural family restaurant closed for business?

Producer: Rebecca Maxted

A Wise Buddah production for BBC Radio 4.