Nothing Fancy by Alison Roman
Alison Roman is super cute, and not supermodel slim, and wears high-waisted jeans. I would love her for these details alone, but she’s also funny, telegenic and a beautiful cook. I’m transfixed by her food column in The New York Times and Good Food magazine, her YouTube videos, and her two cookbooks (Dining In and Nothing Fancy) in which she creates bright, simple dishes in her tiny Brooklyn kitchen with 45 pepper mills, no dishwasher and a terrifyingly full fridge.
“Oh god,” she shouts on her chocolate chunk shortbread cookie video, squatting in front of her fridge. “Don’t look in there, f…! Get out of there!” Not only does she swear – extremely unusual in US cooking videos, even woke ones shot in Brooklyn – but her fridge looks exactly like my fridge: packed solid with naked vegetables and teetering piles of containers and half-empty bottles lying sideways.
Being “relatable” may be the new black, but I find most people’s attempts to be as chaotic and useless as I am in my daily life (especially my daily cooking life) deeply annoying. Not so Roman.
I know she takes ages to peel an onion or a garlic clove, because I’ve seen her do it; I’ve seen her accidentally tip all the tomato cores into her chilli oil fish dish; I’ve seen her put a piece of far-too-big rigatoni in her mouth. I have done all these things too, and seeing her do them makes me feel good.
Thanks to her, I’ve also cooked a perfect ricotta dumpling in 11 minutes, learnt the term for those caramelised brown bits at the bottom of the pan – “fond”, if you’re interested – and joined her in the quest to rid the world of cauliflower leaves in pasta. “I don’t like the way [they] look in the sauce,” she confesses. “It’s a shallow choice, and I’m making it.” I’m with you, Alison.
To read more from Good Weekend magazine, visit our page at The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and Brisbane Times.
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