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Friday, October 7, 2022

Annie Macmanus: ‘I can’t cook. But I’m honoured to have a macaroni cheese named after me’ | Annie Mac

It’s a joke among my friends how not great a cook I am. [Former Radio 1 DJ] Nick Grimshaw is always slagging me off for the fact that he’ll come to my house and get served a bowl of crisps for dinner. Famously, I had to ring him up once to ask how to bake a potato.

On my DJ rider, I used to ask for “pig paraphernalia”. I just think they are really clever, clean and amazing animals who are continuously disrespected by the world. I was expecting maybe a postcard or a mug or a soft toy, but it didn’t work out that way. There were people who took this very far: at one point, there were two live piglets in my dressing room. It was incredibly cute, but bad for the pigs, because it was loud, the music was reverberating [around] the walls. Another time, one of the promoters dressed up in a giant pig costume and hid in the toilet in my dressing room. So when I went to go to the toilet, there was just an enormous pig waiting for me. That was a bit freaky. I took them off the rider after that.

Yes, I am aware there is a food truck in London called Annie Mae’s, which has a signature dish called the Annie Mac. I’ve had countless people send me photos of the sign and I’ve actually been to a couple of festivals where they’ve been, so I’ve gone to see them and had my photo taken in front of the sign. But macaroni cheese is my favourite dish, so I feel very honoured to be up there with Kanye West and other people they have named their macaroni cheeses after.

When I was six, and my big sister was nine, she declared that she was going to be a vegetarian. My mum, who had four kids in five years, was not going to cook two separate meals for everyone, so we all became vegetarian. Then, when I left home and went to college, I went the absolute opposite direction, and was like, “Show me the burgers!” That kind of teenage rebellion. Now I’m mainly vegetarian and plant-based, but with a tiny bit of fish now and again.

While I was doing my Radio 1 show, I started doing this intermittent fasting – [musician] Jessie Ware told me about it. You basically eat between eight hours a day: so I eat between 10am and 6pm, or 11am and 7pm usually, and you eat whatever you want in that time. I find it really, really suits me: I have a lot more energy, and I sleep better. And I’m just not snacking all the time, which is what I used to do.

I need density in my food: I love a carb, I love a potato, I love bread and pasta. Because I come from a large family, it really matters how much food is on my plate. So if I go into a sandwich shop, I will literally pick up the sandwich and weigh it in my hand to make sure it feels heavy enough. That there’s enough heft to warrant me spending my money on it.

My husband [DJ/musician Toddla T] can’t cook at all. I look like Heston Blumenthal compared to him. Our kids are just really grateful to have anything on the table. Anything that’s cooked at home, they’re like, “Wow, we’ll take it!”

In lockdown, I took it upon myself to learn how to cook a few desserts. I started getting really into Nigella Lawson. And again, I got a lot of slagging from my friends because I was like, “Hey, this Nigella’s pretty good!” And they were like, “No shit, Annie, great discovery”.

My favourite things

Food
Bread. All types of bread. It’s one of God’s greatest inventions.

Drink
A pint of Guinness in a pub in Ireland.

Place to eat
Es Cucons, a hotel in Ibiza: I got married there, because it’s one of my favourite places. And I remember a tomato and fig salad with fresh, homegrown tomatoes and figs, and honey and cheese.

Dish to make
Macaroni cheese. I do that once a week, with a roux and four different types of cheese.

Annie Macmanus’s debut novel, Mother Mother, is out now in paperback (Wildfire, £8.99). To support the Guardian and Observer, order your copy from guardianbookshop.com. Delivery charges may apply

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