Watching the movie ‘The History Boys‘ by Alan Bennett a few things cropped into my mind namely the remarkable history of AGA cookers. Invented by a blind chap in Sweden in 1922. Part one of my little history of the AGA series that will be highlighted over the next few ‘every other’ Wednesdays tells a little of the background of this thoroughly intriguing story of how a blind Swedish man started a global culinary change, defined Britishness and, naturally, it’s a spy story too.
Readers will know just how much I love Northern Ireland, how I was born on a farm there and visit home often. Northern Ireland is great at one thing and thats food, food is the story of our people. My Food Strategy for NI tells all about this and you can download it for free HERE, it’s called Beyond the Plate. It’s great to see since launching this that others are taking up the mantle of starting an Honest Food Revolution for Northern Ireland, to tell the story of my people through food.
A Romantic night for 2 occurs between Dr Thomas and I every now and again. Finally I’m jet lag free, my favourite German Dr and I had a night out in Soho for dinner and a proper catchup. Other couples give each other flowers, chocolates and meet at restaurants, last night we met in the Krankenhaus (German for Hospital). Charming. Well, if we are playing this game, I’m so providing the chocolates. Kinder Surprise or Kinder Überraschung as Dr Thomas calls it. And what an Überraschung we had! Dr Thomas ended up having a ‘HooHa’. Now, it’s not every day a German Dr in London has a HooHa, is it?
After launching AGA in China, I finally arrived home today to Peckham (the posh part). It was silly o’clock and I just wanted to see Dr Thomas. He was in bed, as all good people should on a bank holiday at 5am, only I found out he was ill with the flu. I made him a Ribena and turned on Angus the AGA City60 and realised how I had missed both my men from my 10 days in the Orient. You may not have been away, but if you want to WIN AN AGA read on, if only for a jet lagged bacon sandwich. It’s so good to be home.
Readers will know how much I love the food and culture from my native Northern Ireland and also how I often travel to China to present TV and launch food products for Great British and Northern Irish brands in China. What a surprise when I stumbled upon a Northern Irish restaurant in China. A Home from home, I was even greeted at the door in my mother tongue of Ulster Scots with a big smile by Eddie the Chinese owner who lives in Belfast now saying in broad Belfast tone ‘bout ya’, slightly different to the ‘Ni Hao’ I have been greeted with the past 10 days. Welcome to the land of BT8 in Shenzhen, just above Hong Kong.
I’m honoured to be a Patron of the Western International School of Shanghai. Giving back is important, to see kids learn and develop and be part of this is special, but when they are from so many different countries and nationalities in one school, all learning together, playing and being happy, surely this model of learning together is something that we all should learn from?
I’m showing my age now. Shanghai Surprise was a movie with Madonna and Sean Penn in 1986. I was 8 then. Angus the AGA City60 was not born then, Dr Thomas was still living in Germany. I was living on the farm in Northern Ireland with a 2 Oven Green oil fired AGA. It had a flue, the days of flues and AGA are long over. Now I have launched AGA in China I’ve flown from Beijing to Shanghai to stay with friends for the weekend and have some meetings. Dr Thomas phoned me with such a surprise about Angus when I arrived in Shanghai…
Angus, my AGA City60 would have been proud of me today as I did the launch demo of AGA and Redfyre cookers in China. As I waked onto stage I realised I was about to teach the Chinese how to cook rice and cook a stir-fry using the Great British Cookers. And AGA and Redfyre cooked it perfectly. This is the first time a range cooker has been launched in China and I for one am so proud to have been a part of it – bringing the Great British cooker to China.
It’s amazing what one forgets about the Far East when they have not visited for a few months. It’s the little things, the sounds and smells that all of a sudden after landing are as familiar as the sight of the fields where I go home to our family farm in Northern Ireland. I’m back in China for a very busy trip, but I wish this jet-lag would go away. It’s 2 am and as Elton sang ‘good morning to the night‘. It’s 6pm at home in Blighty and my body feels it’s there. Continue reading