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Top nosh, not too posh
Tom Parker Bowles is sweating. ‘Sorry, just run all the way back from Sainsbury’s,’ he says. ‘Only just made it. God, it’s so muggy. I can’t believe it. We’ve got shepherd’s pie. Is it too hot for shepherd’s pie? Oh God, it is isn’t it?’ The kitchen can you wash a canada goose jacket in the washer floor is strewn with Sainsbury’s bags, onions and pillow-packs of organic rocket. I hand over a gift, a rare bottle of olive oil that I had sent directly from Italy specially for him. ‘Oh yes cg, I love this stuff,’ he says producing a half-used bottle of the same from his kitchen counter.
Tom Parker Bowles has just been made Tatler’s food columnist. I snap something along the lines of ‘Well, if I was the editor of Tatler I’d kill for a Parker Bowles on my masthead’. ‘Actually they’ve already got one,’ smiles Tom, ‘my sister’s on it.’ (Laura Parker Bowles is Tatler’s motoring correspondent.) But he knows the job is canada goose coat – hybridge lite unlikely to be the cakewalk it might appear to be. Even Tatler won’t give you a job just because you’re almost royalty any more. You have to come up with the goods or you’re out. Worse, all eyes are on you when you are stepping into the shoes of A.A. Gill, a genuine wordsmith who also happens to know his Bottarga from his Bottega Veneta.
Tom is cooking supper for me. We are standing in his tiny, immaculate kitchen, or at least the kitchen he is borrowing for tonight (his own is being, apparently, redecorated) and he is chopping onions. He may be 27 years old, but he looks about 16 in his orange jeans and Prada trainers. I point out, somewhat unnecessarily, that there are only two things most people know about him. One, that his mother is Camilla Parker Bowles and he is godson to Prince Charles and two, that he got himself into a bit of a mess, two years ago at the Cannes Film Festival, for supplying cocaine to what the BBC joyously called a ‘society girl’. can i put my canada goose jacket in the dryer
‘I was totally set up,’ he explains, looking even more like a butter-wouldn’t-melt-in-his-mouth schoolboy than ever. ‘I mean, a very pretty lady at the beach asked me out for a drink and I thought great, you know, then she asked me if I could get her some coke. I said, “Well, I wouldn’t really know where to get it”. But the thing is, it’s so easy. So, I did. I got caught. I was much younger then and things have changed. I’m involved with this new company now, (quintessentially.com, a ‘bespoke concierge service’ set up by his cousin, the entrepreneur Ben Elliot). I’ve got the Tatler column and I’m working really hard. Things are much more serious now.’
‘I’m obsessed with these prawns,’ he says changing the subject, putting a bowl of juicy pink shellfish on the table, and another for their shells. ‘Just can’t stop eating them.’ The onions are now sizzling in a pan with a little olive oil. Actually, they are not doing quite what he wants them to. They are actually steaming. As this canada goose coat 1000 calorie a day meal plan isn’t Tom’s kitchen, he can’t find a big enough pan. Worse, he can’t find the light switch either. ‘My own kitchen is canada goose coat 1000 bulbs lamps very small, and, well, an absolute tip.’ The onion skins have now joined the shopping on the floor.
‘I am working for this really great company now called Quintessentially. You have to be a member, but we will organise anything for you. Staff, parties, tickets to events that are sold out. We are big on the arts. And it’s doing incredibly well, we’ve got over 1,500 members already.’
Tom starts chopping chillies into tiny rings. He tastes one and looks disappointed, like he expecting something more exciting.
‘So basically you are doing the job of a really good hall porter,’ I venture. ‘Absolutely. Listen, if someone is working in the city, or, say, in the media, and has a job where time is their most valuable commodity then whatever they want, wherever they want to go, then we sort it for them, the full concierge bit.’
Tom adds the chillies and their seeds to the onions then starts holding his hand under the tap. ‘They say, I want two weeks in the South of France, I want a nice villa, I want a boat, something really special. Then that’s what they get. We organise everything. Whether someone wants tickets for Tracey Emin or a double-decker guinea-pig hutch then they get it. But it’s not all about parties in St Tropez or Manhattan, sometimes they are just desperate for someone to unblock the sink. We will get someone to do that too.’
Quintessentially has Tom running around building up a network of ‘doers’ in London, New York, the South of France. He knows Cannes well from his time as film PR with Dennis Davidson Associates. He has been going back and forth to New York, but wants to go further south. ‘Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, I want to visit them all. I love that Southern food, and I’m obsessed with the whole barbecue thing. There so much to it. All those little things. I mean have you ever noticed the way in Texas it’s always beef on the grill or the way Western Carolina barbecue sauces are always tomato based.’
Tom tips some fine looking mince in with the onions and chillies. ‘These chillies are so mild, I’ve had to throw the seeds in as well.’ He is still holding his finger under the tap. ‘Tom, have you cut yourself?’ I finally ask and, knowing full well he has, I am hoping he isn’t going to show me, the most squeamish person ever to walk on two legs. ‘Shit, yes, how did you guess? Oh God, I need a plaster, these Global knives – they just attack you. It doesn’t hurt though.’ He is looking all of 11 years old now and I almost want to sit him on my knee and kiss his finger better. ‘If you cut yourself with a sharp knife it doesn’t hurt.’
He stirs the onions and mince. A deep, savoury smell fills the kitchen. Tom Parker Bowles is bleeding into my shepherd’s pie.
‘I had to put the chillies in. I’m crazy about them. But you become sort of immune to them. Sometimes I put some in and I can’t taste them at all and then someone else will say “phwaaaw, how many chillies did you put in this?” I just have to have that chilli hit. I have been growing buying canada goose jacket online them myself, the really, really hot ones – habaneros. I’ve got them in my window box. I buy them as seedlings. What I love are the different flavours. Everyone thinks it’s all about heat, but it’s not, they all have different flavours too. Habaneros are fruity, seranos are smoky. You know, I hadn’t actually realised that red chillies are just ripe green chillies, I thought they were different sorts. I don’t know what a psychiatrist would make of it but sometimes I just dream about chillies.’ He then gives me a vivid account of how to measure the heat of chillies using the Scoville scale.
Tom’s second piece for Tatler is on his favourite subject. He explains how he built up his chilli threshold by sipping his parents’ Bloody Marys when they were out of the room when he was home from Eton. Soon he got on to curries, the hotter the better. He adds ‘the heart beats faster, the best ideas about canada goose outlet on pinterest pupils dilate and the head becomes light’. ‘Chillies are,’ confides Tom, ‘a sort of culinary cocaine.’
Now he is peeling potatoes for the mash; big fat organic ones. ‘This whole food thing, it comes from school. Years of grey mince. Greasy, swimming mince.’ We find a plaster for his cut finger. ‘At home I’ve got an old Sabatier that I just keep on sharpening and sharpening. Sorry, but I get really excited by knives. It’s a bit like my wok, with years of what’s that stuff called patina. It becomes almost non-stick if you don’t wash it. And I collect proper food writing too, American authors mostly. Have you read Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation about what America’s addiction to fast food is doing to the world? Fantastic book.’ I add that my review copy only dropped through my letterbox two days ago. He’s away and quoting.
Home is a flat in Kensington. ‘It’s a bit of a tip actually.’ Once a month he goes to the country to stay with his mother, Camilla, in one of Britain’s prettiest villages, Laycock in Wiltshire. ‘Mum does the best roast chicken in the world. Sometimes it’s roast lamb. And we always have vegetables from the garden. I was brought up on organically grown vegetables simply because that’s how we grew things at home. Mum doesn’t go in for puddings much, but we have the best Sunday roasts. And we have a proper local butcher too, who cuts the meat from the carcass in front of you. Everything is properly butchered. Meat in supermarkets is bright red with no marbling of fat running through it. It is just not the same.
‘I just don’t understand why I am buying Spanish purple sprouting in April,’ he cries. ‘It annoys me so much that nothing in the supermarkets buy canada goose parka uk is English. I always buy organic. I’m not into conspiracy theories but I worry that the whole world is run by the huge petrochemical, agrochemical companies. You know, like Monsanto.’
The potatoes are boiling, the simmering mince smells like proper home cooking. Supper is going to be good and Tom has opened the most gorgeous bottle of claret which, I suspect, is older than either of us.
Tom’s great grandfather was the revered food writer P. Morton Shand who wrote The Book of Food, published in 1927. Hopefully things have moved on since he wrote: ‘Salvation must come, if it is to come at all, from the concerted efforts of our patient, badly fed men. Let them rise up and refuse to take to wife one who cannot assure for them, by competent direction or personal preparation, the happiness of a well-tended and varied table. An apron, buy canada goose parka uk Madame, can be as becoming as a ball-dress, a robe all too common in these days to inspire either envy or respect. A single cordon bleu is worth a whole generation of blue stockings.’
Tom isn’t going out with anyone at the moment. ‘I have always inflicted my food on my girlfriends. I usually cook in the evenings, just for my girlfriend at the time and a couple of friends. I started cooking at university [Tom read English at Oxford]. Pasta sauces, that’s what I do more than anything, you have to let them cook for a long time. I never give dinner parties. It’s more a case of friends round for dinner. I do go to parties but I am much happier cooking at home.’
The potatoes are ready for mashing. ‘You don’t best place buy canada goose jacket toronto mash yours much do you?’ he asks, bits of potato trying to escape from the pot. ‘I like a few lumps too’. In goes the butter, and some salt and black pepper. We are both transfixed by his friends’ battery-operated pepper mill which, we both decide looks distinctly like a silver dildo. It even has a light so you can see where the pepper is going.
A weekend in the country is now more appealing than all-night parties. ‘A weekend with Mum and my sister is what I need to gather myself after a busy week in London or New York. I don’t cook much at home though. It’s Mum’s kitchen, she knows where everything is. She does it all herself, there’s no help, but she really enjoys it all. Her kitchen is always a nice place to be.’
Right now, this kitchen is pretty nice too. Tom cooks my sort of food. The pie is bubbling away in the oven. We watch it through the glass oven door. I am not sure who is most surprised at its obvious success. ‘Another few minutes I think. I’ll make some salad.’ By this point there is as much on the floor as on the counters and our cook is having to lean over everything to make the dressing. As someone who is paralysed at the thought of making supper in a strange kitchen I reckon Tatler’s new food writer is doing pretty well. He opens packs of baby spinach leaves, watercress and organic rocket and drizzles them with lemon and that rather rare oil.
Tom Parker Bowles’ shepherd’s pie is everything you want home cooking to be. Smooth, almost soupy and piping hot. Tom thinks the chillies could have been hotter. I say they are fine. He offers some of the chilli sauce on the counter by way of amends but says it is a not a good one. He tells me there are 2,000 different chilli sauces, some with really wild names, and – he is getting really quite animated now – he says ‘Have you come across a bottle of Screaming Sphincter yet?’ Then, almost breaking out into a phantom chilli sweat he begs, ‘and have you tried Endorphin Rush or that Hot Bitch at the Beach?’