Five Questions: Roseanne Pereira

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I met Roseanne years ago, when she, a stranger then, called me from California, inquiring about a place called The Ballymaloe, the culinary school I went to in Ireland. So few Americans attend the quirky program, and she wanted the scuttlebutt. Roseanne is a person full of wonder, an explorer, always a student—qualities I find deeply respectful. She is also a writer, which those qualities reflect, and as you can see in her photo, a true food lover.

What does eating well look like for you?

Eating food that leaves me feeling good/ gives me energy throughout day. Having gratitude for what is on my plate and how it got there, even if just for a moment.

What is a favorite and reliable everyday dish for you and your family?

Hmmm, sometimes I smash up cherry tomatoes and olives for a quick side salad. Recently, I’ve gotten into Hollyhock dressing and keep a jar in the fridge so I can add it to any kind of salad, cooked greens, or even just a bowl of garbanzo beans. I try and always have some sort of staple around, like Le Puy lentils, that are fine on their own, or that I can throw into other dishes.

Can you share a defining food memory?

Sure! I grew up in South Florida and had a coconut tree in my backyard. My dad would break open young coconuts from the tree and as a kid, I would be ready with a glass for the fresh coconut water. Then, I would run into the house to give my mom a taste for the final assessment of the coconut’s quality.

What topics around food are you most interested in, and why?

I am very much a people-person, so I love to hear about what certain foods mean for people. I’m also interested in the histories of cuisines and ingredients. I’ve attended lectures by culinary historians that convinced me that there are clues about our histories in our recipes.

I have to ask. What would you hope for as a last meal on this earth?

If I did not know it was my last meal- tabbouleh with lots of lemon and parsley.

If I did know - my mother’s chicken curry and rice, and my auntie’s lime pickle, followed by a hot cup of black tea. I drink tea each morning, so this ending would be like a beginning.