Perfect plates: usa promotion tour
I've visited New York in the depths of winter, when the frost and snow are all-consuming. At that time, the city doesn't stop, it doesn't even slow down - unless a snowstorm forces lockdown - but it does change. The already fast-paced footsteps of people on the pavements become quicker, compelled by the cold to seek indoor warmth. Stores burst with Christmas shoppers, pursuing presents and warmth in equal measure.
I've visited New York in summer, too, when the mugginess is relentless. Descending the subway steps you'd think you were entering infernal realms as the air from passing trains offers no cooling solace, just an amplification of the intense, wet heat. People sluggishly stroll the streets, lulled into drowsiness by the unbearably close temperatures. The entire city dances a slow-paced fox-trot to the dull, whirring beat of the air-conditioning units that consume every window pane of every building.
New York in the spring is different again: it's changeable yet refreshing. It may rain a little for an hour before the sun shines down intensely; the bursts of heat broken sporadically by a cooling, muscular breeze. Central Park is the place to go. The floating oceans of blossom are thick and pastel-toned, and the squirrels and birds compete for crumbs dropped, sometimes purposefully, by lingering tourists or darting commuters. Children play, dog walkers walk their dogs, and food vendors fill the peripheries with the scent of fried onions - a forcefield of flavour.
I was delighted when my publisher asked me to head to NYC and LA to promote the US edition of my third cookbook, Perfect Plates in 5 Ingredients (more info on the book here). And it wasn't just to plant me in the bookstores, disguised and shrouded, to rearrange the books in our favour - though I did, of course, do just that. I was to appear on two major television shows: NBC's The Today Show in NYC and The Home and Family Show on the Hallmark Channel in LA.