Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Interview with Pink of Perfection

When I decided to create this blog I wanted to focus on sharing my own favourite recipes, photographs and food fantasies with you. Of equal importance though is using this blog to hear from others who share my passion, and to steal some of their ideas on how to create amazing dining experiences and why food is so exciting to them.
One of the reasons I love blogging so much is that regardless of geography and time difference and the fact that you may never have met, you can feel like you know someone as you do a friend just by reading their blog.

That is how I feel about Sarah Mccoll who runs Pink of Perfection.

I began reading her blog a couple of years ago, and have checked back in every morning since to hear about her new creations, cosy dinner parties and sweet musings on how food influences our lives.

That is why I asked Sarah to be my first interviewee for this blog. I hope you enjoy reading her answers as much as I did - I actually squealed when I saw her email this morning (it was prompt as always!)

Thanks Sarah, for sharing this with me.

Name: Sarah McColl Age: 26
Blog address:
Where do you live: Brooklyn, NY

Can you remember the first dish you cooked? What was it? Who did you cook with? Is it a long forgotten relic or have you ever cooked it again?
"Stew." Ingredients included sticks, honeysuckle blossoms, leaves, dirt, and hot water. "Making stew" was my favorite childhood game for awhile. In terms of actual edible things, I remember making fruit pizza and brownies with my Girl Scout troop. Still love brownies, though I can't say the same about fruit pizza!

What would be your desert island foods of choice – you can have two, because I am a strong believer in the beauty of a food partnership!
This is too hard! Lettuce and eggs, since both are pretty versatile. But imagining a world without coffee, chocolate, and avocados is just too grim. Next question!

Favourite scene from a film which involves or revolves around food or cooking?
The glorious preparation of the big meal in Babette's Feast or when Amelie tosses a little salad in the kitchen of her Montmartre apartment

Best meal you ever ate – where, when, with who and what does it mean to you when you think of it?
I would have to say the dinner we ate before my fiance, Sebastian, proposed in Paris. It was a totally over-the-top once in a lifetime meal -- champagne, filet of sole with white truffles, foie gras, filet mignon with bone marrow, a slice of ripe Roquefort, petit fours. Thinking of it now, it was a warm, glamorous, epic meal, but the walk we took along the Seine afterwards in the middle of the night with no one else around will always be my favorite part.

Typical food diary for a “good day” and for an “indulgent day” i.e. (how much difference is there between what you actually eat and what you would if we had no concept of good vs. bad body image)
The difference between normal eating and indulgent eating for me usually just depends whether or not I go to a restaurant. In restaurants, all bets are off, and I will usually go for the richest, fattiest things -- nachos, rich curries, ribs, burgers. Thankfully, in the past few months I haven't been eating out very much.

As long as there is a cup of super strong coffee with milk at breakfast, I am happy. Whether it's accompaniment is a scone at the coffee shop where I write or a strawberry-banana-peanut butter-flax smoothie, doesn't really matter. Lunch will be leftovers from the night before, usually soup. You wouldn't know it from my blog, but I eat a lot of stir-fry, a lot of grain+veggies+legumes combinations. Simple stuff.

For dinner I try to cook something that I can blog about, pasta, soup, maybe a nice chop with veggies.

And on a really good day, the day would be capped off by getting in bed early with a cup of the best hot chocolate and reading for a couple hours.

In terms of body image, I try very hard not to think about eating in terms of "good" or "bad." I've got an hourglass figure and I love good food and am not particularly adept at restraint -- but I also think good food is very often healthy food. I try to have a balanced outlook about it, which is certainly not always easy. But I try.

What gets you out of bed in the morning on a bad day?
Coffee! There is a line in Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections in which a character says he lies awake in bed at night unable to sleep because he is so looking forward to his first morning coffee. That's me.

But truthfully, I am a very big fan of holing up in bed on the bad days and consoling myself with movies, magazines, vintage 90210, and Chinese delivery.

Can you share with me your foolproof dish for a night in, on your own on a cold and windy night tucked up in your little home?
On my own, on a cold and windy night at home, my foolproof "dish" is a cup of tea with lots of milk and triscuits (whole wheat wafer crackers for us in UK - Ed!) with mayonnaise and extra sharp New York cheddar cheese. The mayo-phobes are surely shuddering, but there are few things as comforting and cozy to me. Reminds me of sitting in my mom's kitchen.

Do you think that young women, who have the importance of their weight and the way they look stressed to them from an increasingly young age, will cook and eat in a different way to previous generations?
If we all cooked more like our grandmothers, we'd probably be better off. Even if things are rich with butter and cream, there is a certain wholesomeness to everything cooked from scratch, I think, much more so than zapping something in the microwave or opening up a can or box from a fast food restaurant and not knowing where the ingredients came from or how the food was prepared.

I honestly don't think cooking is the culprit to obesity -- it's everything else: the convenience foods, the restaurant portions, the fake, processed crap that we eat. But don't get me wrong -- I love Cheetos as much as the next person and eat my fair share.

How, if at all, do you think the recession will affect the blogging community, and particularly people who like to blog about food and dining in/out?
People seem to be cooking at home more, which might mean that there is a new audience turning to blogs as a recipe resource and increasing traffic for food blogs.

As for the content of the blogs themselves, I know I have been eating out less, which means I've been getting less inspiration for meals to invent from something I ate at a restaurant.

But it also means I've been making things at home that I've never really made before -- like breakfast! -- and focusing on how to make a really great dinner out of humble, low-cost ingredients. Bloggers or not, I certainly home that the recession helps shift people's values to how wonderful the small details of life -- like a simple homemade soup shared with a friend or family -- can be.

In the UK, as in the USA I believe, the recession has meant increased business for fast food chains like KFC and pizza delivery companies like Pizza Hut. Can you see a way to educate people about creating cost effective and healthy food at home – and is anyone trying to do it in the US? Contentiously, is it possible to compete with a meal for 4 people for $10 which KFC offers?
It's funny you should bring up KFC because just this weekend my sister and I were talking about this ad and I said, "anyone who thinks this is a good deal has never made beans!" I love this blogger's story about beating the price of the KFC meal and having, as she says, "three extra pieces of chicken and a carcass to use for soup."

But how to educate people that they can cook good, quality food for themselves at a cheaper price than fast food? I wish I knew -- maybe we need a reprisal of home ec. The thing is, a lot of people don't know how to cook really basic, economical things, like a roast chicken, and I worry that the act of cooking -- because of blogs, epicurean magazines, and cooking shows -- has started to look like the rarified art of "gourmands." It's not, of course -- at its most base, it's about feeding a hunger.

But something else to consider is that people who are struggling are sometimes working two or three jobs. If I were in that position, I would probably opt for the KFC meal. It's a really tough situation. If you're electricity is about to be turned off, you're really not concerned whether or not your meal has trans fats or factory farm chicken.

What’s your idea of the perfect night in? Who would be there and what would you eat and do?
A dinner party for six with my fiance, my sister and her husband, my dear friend Alison and her boyfriend. There would be lots of wine, hysterics, charades, long-winded stories, pate with quince jam, pork tenderloin, roasted potatoes, and a beautiful tart, followed by nibbles of chocolate and port. Everyone would get home very late, very drunk, and very happy.

Got any handy food related facts or tips for us?
How about a quote from Beethoven: " Only the pure of heart can make good soup."

What cooking utensil or tool do you think everyone should invest in?
Tongs. They really come in handy, more often than you might think.

Finally, because I am nosy and think you’re cool, what is your favourite film of all time?
When Harry Met Sally. I could watch it a thousand times and never tire of it.


  1. I've just stopped by from Sarah's blog (hello!) and loved this interview and hearing more of her thoughts (vintage 90210, love it). PoP is one of those blogs I check daily without fail, one to savour with a cuppa. Now to have a stickybeak round your blog too... cheers! :)

  2. Also headed over from Pink of Perfection... great interview to read while lunching on soba noodles :) Look forward to browsing around here too.

  3. Hello love, gidget and Vanessa - lovely to have you here. Glad you liked the interview.


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