Sophie spent her childhood years in South Africa, where the blazing sun meant traditional family meals of barbecues and salads. She now lives in Brixton, South London and spends her weekends cooking hearty feasts for her friends (of which I’m lucky to be one of). If pushed, she’d cite Nigel Slater’s ‘Real Food’ as her favourite cookbook, but her ultimate inspiration comes from her mum. Here, Soph tells us about meal times in SA, and her Mum’s pesto risotto.
"I'm going to have to dedicate this space to my mother's cold, pesto rice which, admittedly, sounds unpalatable. But trust me, it's not. Large grain risotto rice, rolled in a fresh, homemade pesto sauce, with rocket and parmesan shavings on the top and pine nuts for crunch. Delicious.
Growing up in South Africa, barbecues were every weekend activities. And my parents, being the hosts they are, had many a barbecue that stretched beyond sundown and plenty of dinner parties that ended in the early hours.
If it was a lunchtime barbecue, this salad would be there, in a large blue patterned bowl, waiting for my siblings and I to tuck in. Under the blazing South African sunshine, we'd tear ourselves from the pool, get wrapped up in towel and sit there, dripping, with a grilled sausage and a healthy spoonful of the rice in front of us.
If the rice was prepared for an adults only dinner party, my brother and I would sneak downstairs in the morning, eager to pick and taste our way across the debris of the night before, before our parents roused from sleep. A glass of Schweppes bitter lemon, the bowl of rice between us, two spoons digging in with cartoons playing in the background - a truly covert consumption that felt wonderfully sneaky."
- Sophie Everett