My life in food: Diane Morgan on curries, chippies and cheese

The comedian and actor best known for playing Philomena Cunk discusses curries, Aussie cuisine and her favourite fish and chip shop.Sunday, 22 December 2019

By National Geographic Traveller Food

I used to work in a chippy in Bolton called Le Chipparee. I think it was meant to sound all French and posh, but they kept the spuds in a bath. I used to have to shovel them into the chipper, which was quite satisfying. I wasn’t very good, though, because I was too thick to use the till, so I didn’t last long there. There aren’t as many chip shops down south but I’m lucky enough to live near The Fryer’s Delight in Bloomsbury, which does amazing fish and chips. It’s all original 1960s decor too.

Growing up, I was lucky to have a mum who made really good home-cooked meals. My brother would put me off my vegetables, though, so I went through a phase of either pocketing them and flushing them down the toilet, or sneaking them underneath the table to the family dog.

Aussies make the most perfect coffee, and the food is delicious. I went to Sydney last year to film Frayed for Sky and I loved it. There was a surprising lack of chains — they were mostly independent places where the owner was on the premises and really cared about the food.

If I was on death row and had to choose a last meal, I’d go for a chicken bhuna. Or maybe KFC because, let's face it, I wouldn’t be thinking about my health if I was on death row.

The curry in Kerala was exquisite. I remember eating some fish that looked disgusting (they all had weird faces), but they were honestly the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten. It’s the spices! You could probably curry a pencil case and it would taste delicious.

I live near a superb Indian restaurant. It’s called Little India, in Holborn. Their curries are the best I’ve ever tasted, and as I said, I’ve been to India. Chicken bhuna, sag paneer, mushroom rice, peshwari naan… delicious.

I’m trying not to eat red meat. I’m mainly veggie, but I do allow myself the odd bit of chicken and fish. I do a good salmon traybake, but having to think up different meals every day is exhausting — I don’t know how my mum did it. Luckily, my chap, Ben, is a bit of a dab hand in the kitchen.

Cheese is the one thing I couldn’t live without. If it wasn’t for cheese, I could probably try going vegan. It’s very good for improving a bland meal.

I can’t stand sushi. I don’t think we should be eating raw fish; it just feels wrong. And I hate prawns — or, as I call them, ‘dirty sea worms’.

I’d love Philomena Cunk to have her own cookery programme. I think she’d only have very bland, simple meals that involve minimal use of pans. It’d be nice to see things being burnt and scraped into a bin, too. I’ve not seen that kind of behaviour since Keith Floyd, and I really miss him.

Diane Morgan can currently be seen in Frayed on Now TV, The Cockfields on Gold and Mandy on BBC iPlayer.

Published in the Jan/Feb 2020 issue of National Geographic Traveller Food

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