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FO O D & D R I N K | B E N T I S H

Become fascinated by the food of the moors The restaurateur shares his passion for the foods of the Mediterranean and the Moors

Chef and restaurateur Ben Tish might have

“Their attitude to eating, how important

grown up in fish and chip shop-strewn

food is in their daily life - it’s all about when

Skegness, but his ultimate passion is the

they go shopping for their food, it’s top

food of the Med.

of the list. It’s not like us here, where it’s bottom of the list. I fell in love with that.”

He’s travelled to the region every year for more than a decade, spending lots of time

Skegness-born Tish has been a professional

particularly in Sicily, Andalucia and on the

chef for 25 years, and is the culinary director

Amalfi Coast - and his latest cookbook

of The Stafford London, but he actually “fell

Moorish, as the title doubly suggests,

into” cooking.

focuses on the region and its culinary legacy of the Moors, which people still can’t

“I didn’t really come from a foodie family as

get enough of.

such; my parents were both terrible cooks,” he says, explaining this was more down to

The Moors were Muslims of North African descent, who invaded Spain and occupied

their lack of time and being overworked,

A B OV E Isaac Carew in the kitchen | Susan Bell/PA

than a lack of interest in food.

the Iberian Peninsula during the Middle Ages. “They had a pretty good run of it, it

“They did enjoy eating nice food,” he notes,

was fairly short-lived [around 200 years],”

Cooking techniques, like deep-frying and

recalling trips to France where they’d eat

says Tish of their attempts to conquer the

grilling over wood and charcoal, were also

their way around the Loire Valley with his

world, “but it’s still being felt now.”

introduced largely by the Moors. “As a chef, I

parents’ friends. “So I understood there

find that fascinating; as a food person, I find

was nice food out there, but I think the

He is entranced by the advancements

that fascinating,” says Tish. “You’ll get very

most important thing is my gran - my dad’s

and innovations the Moors brought with

typical non-Muslim ingredient like pork for

mum, [a] Jewish grandmother basically.

them, from their scientific developments

example, but rubbing shoulders with cumin

She lived with us, downstairs in a granny

(like distillation processes, even though they

and cardamom, and that’s just a natural way

flat at the back of the house. I would spend

didn’t drink alcohol for religious reasons), to

of cooking - it’s not a fusion, it’s just how the

a lot of time with her because my parents

their planting habits (as they invaded, they

food’s morphed over the centuries.”

were busy.

the fruit, and the scent - hence Seville’s

Their legacy is as lively as ever, and intact,

“Honestly, she was the most amazing cook,”

famous orange trees).

down largely to the fact that “the places I’m

he adds. “And that stuck with me.”

planted citrus trees as they went, both for

talking about, Andalucia, Seville, Malaga, Their presence, says Tish, 44, can be found

they haven’t changed and they’re not going


in architecture (“In some parts of Sicily

to”, says the restaurateur with affection.

Mediterranean by Ben Tish, photography by

and Andalucia you could be in Morocco”)

“There are probably a few more cars - but

Kris Kirkham, is published by Bloomsbury

and through certain dishes; from nutrient-

that’s it.”

Absolute, priced £26. Available now.

spices, to the area’s penchant for sweet

He feels that, although the dishes he makes

By Ella Walker, Press Association



are his “take” on a cuisine, he has fully

Ibizan biscuits and cakes (“There’s not

adopted the food and sensibility around

Are you feeling inspired? Try one of Ben’s

just partying in Ibiza”) owe culinary debts

produce and seasonality of people in

recipes for yourself...

to the Moors.

southern Italy and Spain.





rich cold soups, granita, aubergines and mouth-puckering




Profile for House & Lifestyle

House & Lifestyle | 205  

Your free monthly property and lifestyle magazine in available in hundreds of outlets throughout Dorset & Hampshire.

House & Lifestyle | 205  

Your free monthly property and lifestyle magazine in available in hundreds of outlets throughout Dorset & Hampshire.