A proud Kiwi of Italian and Sicilian heritage, Jim Boswell loves his bread and pasta and is passionate about gluten-free food that tastes good and is easy to prepare.Colleen Thorpe asks Jim about his new book and love of cooking
TELL US WHAT COELIAC DISEASE IS ...
Coeliac disease is a permanent intolerance to gluten and is classed as an autoimmune disorder caused by the gluten found in wheat, barley, oats and rye. Coeliac disease is hereditary and causes the body to produce antibodies that damage the lining of the small bowel and make it impossible for the body to absorb vitamins, minerals and other nutrients from food.
HOW EASY IS IT TO COOK FOR SOMEONE SUFFERING FROM GLUTEN INTOLERANCE?
My advice would be to cook seasonal fresh. A nice roast chicken with roast vegetables and fresh greens is a good option. Read the labels of any ingredients you are using, such as seasonings, to ensure they contain no gluten.
YOU HAVE DONE A FAIR BIT OF TRAVELLING. WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE PLACE TO VISIT ... AND WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE DISH FROM THAT AREA?
This is easy, Sicily. The food there is usually super-fresh with simple ingredients, but packed full of taste that has been influenced by many cultures. Gatto' di patate con ragu is one of my favourites. This is a Bolognese-style meat sauce in a mashed potato casing. I love a fresh lamb ragu and casing it like a pie with a potato base and topping makes it a wonderful meal served with a fresh salad. You could liken this to a Sicilian/Kiwi shepherd's pie fusion.
WHAT IS YOUR FIRST MEMORY OF FOOD?
Sitting at the dining table aged 5, shelling peas that came from my father's garden while my mother was telling me to hurry up.
WHO IS YOUR BIGGEST FAN?
It has to be my Mum. She was so proud when she received her copy of my book. I was so moved with her comments and how proud she is. My mother is not one to praise a lot unless she feels its deserved. With her background in nutrition, for me it's like a huge hug.
WHO WAS THE MAJOR INFLUENCE IN YOUR LOVE OF COOKING?
My mother. She taught me timing and how to bring a meal together from a young age. From there I grew my own cooking style, but timing it to be ready all together is still the core thing I have in mind when cooking, even at home for myself.
WHAT INGREDIENT COULD YOU NOT LIVE WITHOUT?
Tomatoes, they are sweet, juicy, and delicious. I use them in sauces, salads, sliced with cheese and the list goes on. As a bonus they contain lycopene, a red pigment that medical research has proved offers many beneficial effects.
IF YOU GO OUT TO A RESTAURANT WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO EAT?
Fresh, fabulous seafood. I would choose a place that served local, same-day catch fish dishes.
IN THE COOKING WORLD, WHO DO YOU MOST ADMIRE?
Al Brown. His love for local, fresh food and the way that he brings it to people is wonderful. I am an advocate for eating seasonal, fresh sourced local. I love the way he brings some hunter-gatherer aspects into his dishes.
WHAT IS YOUR MOST HATED FOOD?
Most hated - one word, tripe. As a kid I was made to eat it after smelling it cooking for ages and I didn't like what I smelt. While over the years I have tasted some nice tripe cooked well, no, I am not converted.
HAVE YOU A GUILTY PLEASURE?
It's in my book - cassata alla Siciliana, for me it's a real sweet treat.
IF YOU'RE NOT COOKING WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO?
That's easy. I am lucky to live in native bush-clad hills near Piha in West Auckland. Getting out with the dogs down to the beach or exploring the local stream that flows through where I live, what a joy.
IF YOU WERE THE GOVERNMENT'S MINISTER OF FOOD WHAT WOULD BE YOUR FIRST RULING?
To ensure that there was no GMO in New Zealand. The commercial changing of what has been made by nature for profit to me is wrong.
WHAT THREE NEW ZEALAND FOODS ARE TOP OF YOUR LIST?
Fresh herbs, fresh tomatoes and New Zealand lamb.
TELL US THREE THINGS ABOUT YOURSELF PEOPLE MAY NOT KNOW OR MAY BE SURPRISED TO LEARN.
I turned 50 in January and I love it; I ran a bungy jump in Nepal 12 years ago - a 160m jump, 13km from Tibet. I also spent many years travelling the world working in extreme sports and learning local cooking; I have been singing and playing a blues harmonica since I was 18. Now that's something - the gluten-free chef plays and sings the blues.
The New Zealand Gluten-Free Cookbook
by Jim Boswell, Penguin, $44.99