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birthday picnic-beetroot dip

I always thought I would be dead by the time I was 35. Then I reached that age and thought that I wouldn’t make it past 50. As I approached my 50th year in perfect health, I decided that if I wasn’t going to be buried in a cemetery, I might just as well have a birthday picnic in it except that I never got round to organising it. It took another decade for me to make it happen, almost. It was going to be in Bunhill Fields where Blake, Defoe and Bunyan are buried. A perfect place for a foot in the grave party. I got the necessary permission (there is a garden right by the cemetery) and sent out the invitations. I also asked my lovely friend Amy, who is chef at Chez Panisse, if she would come and cook the picnic with me and she very kindly said yes. As the date approached, I obsessively checked the weather forecast but it was not looking good. So, Zaha, who I have been friends with more or less since I moved to London in 1973, suggested I move the picnic to her stunning gallery. An offer that I was very grateful for and of course accepted. Here are a few photos from what turned out to be a fabulous event, all taken by my very talented young intern, Sophie Minchilli.

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fabio 1 copy

I seem to have a love/hate relationship with everything and everybody. One minute I love one person or one place and the next I am bored. I am exaggerating of course. I have many friends (even lovers) whom I have adored for many years; and places like Sicily or Syria where I love to go back again and again.

But I am definitely not exaggerating when I say that I both love and hate Shoreditch where I live. I love my loft of course, and the architecture of the whole area — not the horrid newly built stuff — and I really like most of the people I know there, in particular Mrs Patel who makes the best Gujarati food in town. I also love many of the new shops that have opened recently like Chiki Chic and the great places to eat like St John’s and Rochelle Canteen. But most of all, I love my almost daily walk to Waitrose through Bunhill Fields where William Blake and John Bunyan are buried.

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