Obviously Janice got all her economy bacon and other fine foodstuffs from Makro. Bulk-buying, having originally been imported from India was big business. Yet the food chain was a real mystery to me. The Kid and I stayed at Janice and Macca’s for five years, and one thing you were sure of was a hot square meal for supper. IN THE SUMMER OF 85, BOB GELDOF AND BAND-AID WERE ON OUR SCREENS. THERE WERE MASSIVE PARTIES IN MANCHESTER, THE CHARITY INITIATIVE CAPTURED THE NATION’S ATTENTION AND THE MUSIC WAS EVERYWHERE. YEARS LATER WHILST LISTENING TO ‘FEED THE WORLD’ ON THE RADIO, IT DAWNED ON ME THAT I HADN’T ONCE REALLY THOUGHT ABOUT THOSE STARVING CHILDREN, DIDNT SEND A SINGLE PENNY AND WAS EFFECTIVELY OBLIVIOUS TO THEIR SUFFERING. And still I loved the stuff – witness Matt Graham and A.Jude discovering Lebanese, Persian, African and Soviet Bloc cuisine. It held me in its RAPTURE, but as my luck ran out, a new perspective opened up. In 2002, jobs in Banska Bystrica, Slovakia and Rijeka in Croatia came to an end. I had a roof over my head but couldn’t find employment in Croatia for love nor money. Then at Easter my only debit card was swallowed. No one wanted to help so I took my last two dollars down to the local shop and bought a loaf of bread, a slab of cheese and a small bottle of Hrvatska ale. Two days later there was a morsel of cheese and an inch cube of dry bread left. Strange feelings of euphoria took over. I went for a long refreshing seaside walk and slept like a baby. The next day feeling strangely optimistic, I took the 3km walk into the town cente where brightly coloured coca-cola girls were handing out fizzy orange drinks. I grabbed two. The walk home was tiring and the next day, apart from the obvious hunger, I started to feel nauaseous. My thought processes had radically altered and Solzhenitsyn’s novel ‘The First Circle’ was remarkably clear and erudite. I guess I was de-toxifying my body and lost two stone in weight. FORTUNATELY I was by then a guest, either of Croatia’s Majesty or tin-pot Government, not sure which. I spent a surprisingly calm week in a building over the Adriatic which curiously looked exactly like Alcatraz. Here we were fed delicious soup and plenty of bread and cheese. Since that summer of 2002 I have always thought more carefully about food. Stunningly simple drinks like nettle tea – and if I occasionally create my signature dish ‘pasta personified’, I am accused by friends of an almost autistic fascination for the ingredients.