“Did y’all see Melania’s dress the other day?” was the first clue.

Two English girls, driving through Texas

It was 2019, pre-mask wearing, pre-travel bans, pre-covid and the forthcoming US election was still an entire year away. We were two British girls on a five-week road trip, snaking through the B roads of the southern states of the USA, culminating in Thanksgiving in Texas.

We had no contacts in the US, just a mission to drive across the bible belt in our little Ford Fiesta, taking as many foodie pit-stops as possible in a bid to better understand what America’s all about through its food. We’d…

All hail the generation of the conscious, bamboo straw-toting traveller

This week, aeroplanes began to land at Corfu airport, in Greece. After months of not a single plane in the sky flying above the turquoise waters of the Ionian, where I have been based, spotting a plane now is cause for comment. “Oh, a plane!” we exclaim.

No-one thought global travel could ever come to a standstill in such a dramatic way but once it had, we got used to our plane-less skies.

On the island, residents didn’t migrate to the beaches to prepare for a summer season in concrete…

This is what I learned

A grandma sitting in between two young women. They’re all holding up glasses of red liquid with lemon wedges on the rims.
A grandma sitting in between two young women. They’re all holding up glasses of red liquid with lemon wedges on the rims.
From L–R: the author, Grandmother Sharon from North Carolina, and Iska Lupton. Photos: Iska Lupton

Unsure of what to expect beyond burgers and squelchy macaroni cheese, we set off in our tiny Ford Fiesta, two women with a very specific mission: We were in the U.S. from the U.K. to hunt down grandmothers. More specifically, American grandmothers who can cook.

It’s part of our quest to share stories and recipes of matriarchs in the Grand Dishes cookbook, for which Iska Lupton and I have been traveling the world to uncover the culinary secrets of each nation through its grandmothers’ cooking.

Just before the Covid-19 outbreak, the final leg of our mission culminated in a Great…

It’s having a moment but fancy food styling dates back way further than instagram

Foraged wild florals, marble slab serving platters and pretty palates to satiate the palate. Table dressing and design has become an extension of fancy plate styling for the modern chef but how did we go from breaking bones with our bare hands and guzzling drinks out of human skulls (Homo Sapiens at Cheddar Gorge liked to sip their water in style) to today’s well-laid spreads?

The term ‘setting the table’ literally came about in the medieval period when the table itself would have to be constructed every mealtime out of trestles and a long slab of wood. Any ‘dressing’ of…

How our first threesome made me realise he’s ‘The One’

“I need to find a sexy Sicilian man before I go back to my husband in the Netherlands.” Rewind a year-or-so and I’m being given lessons in non-monogamy from 52-year-old Heidi. I did not expect to be learning this while studying Italian in Palermo on my break-up hiatus but after a traumatic three years trying to convince someone so not into commitment to commit to me (and failing until I finally call it quits) my interest is piqued.

Much like my ex boyfriend, she’s convinced that the most important thing…

I set out to write a book about food. The love lessons were a welcome side dish.

Locked in a bathroom, hot tears streaming down my face, I felt like my heart was on fire. As I listened to my best friend’s grandmother describe the moment her husband of 60 years died in front of her, I realized how important the project we’d embarked on together was. In a year, we’d unwittingly collected relationship advice from the world’s top marriage experts. But the experts weren’t couples counselors — they were grannies.

The Grand Dishes (soon to be book) began as a personal project to finally gather all of my Greek grandmother’s recipes interspersed with her insights on…

Anastasia Miari

Freelance journalist writing about travel, the environment, food and life for The Guardian, The Independent, The New York Times and The Telegraph.

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