A Taste of Garlic

The Robin Ellis Interview - Interview (Writer)

interview writer  The Robin Ellis Interview   because we all love reading blogs about life in FranceWhen I first came across www.robin-ellis.net, I was immediately entranced….

Mainly, I guess, because Robin loves cooking and his passion for real, good food comes over with every post on his blog.

I was so impressed that I resolved to review the site for your benefit at the soonest opportunity!

However, I then discovered that not only had Robin written a book (it’s already on my Christmas Pressie list!) but also…

He is a world famous actor!

And, as well as his many other thespian conquests, he played what, to my mind anyway, was the leading role in the very first episode of possibly the finest television comedy series ever broadcast!

interview writer  The Robin Ellis Interview   because we all love reading blogs about life in France Delicious Dishes for Diabetics – The Mediterranean diet is now recognised as one of the healthiest in the world.

Robin Ellis shows how by simply following such guidelines as eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, cooking with olive oil not butter, seasoning food with herbs and spices rather than salt, avoiding red meat, excluding foods such as white potatoes, white rice and white bread, by limiting dairy products and eating fish or shellfish at least twice a week, those with type 2 diabetes can help to improve their blood sugar levels and enjoy wonderful tasty dishes every day of the week.

His recipe collection includes such favourites as Chicken Breast with Lemon and Caper Sauce, North African Lamb with Apricots and Bulgar Wheat, Simple Sea Bass, Pot Roasted Pork with Dried Mushrooms and Juniper Berries, Spaghetti in Walnut Sauce, to name just a few.

interview writer  The Robin Ellis Interview   because we all love reading blogs about life in FranceFor more information, or if you wish to purchase…

As it’s been way too long since I’ve had my grubby little hands on a real live author (and actor, to boot!), I decided there was only one polite thing to do!

A famous (or should that, by now, be infamous) A Taste of Garlic Interview…..

But, before we go on to that, I feel it only fair to warn you that what follows contains scenes of gratuitous nudity (well, only one scene really but our budget doesn’t stretch to much!) and a video clip that will make you laugh until you pee your panties!

And, for any English women who, shall we say, have left their teenage days behind….

I can reveal that Robin Ellis is also the man you may well have lusted over in your younger years!




You see, as well as being the pivotal character in possibly the finest moment of television comedy ever broadcast….

And not being content with being a fine and passionate cookery writer….

Robin Ellis is (or rather, was)…..

The original male television sex symbol…..

The brooding hunk who out even hunked Engelbert Humperdinck!

The one and only…. Ross Poldark!

And, as if that wasn’t enough, Robin also went on to star as the undercover police detective in the first ever episode of Farty Towels!

Now…..

I know that we were hoping to have a celebrity interview with…

Johnny Depp

But….

Has Johnny Depp ever made you laugh so much that….

You’ve piddled yourself?

No? I though not!

Well, that honour does go to Robin Ellis!

For the more impatient of you….

Robin’s performance starts at about 8 minutes in!

Now, not wanting to let such a precious catch slip through my fingers, I didn’t waste a single moment and immediately asked Robin if he would consent to an interview.

I was hoping and praying that he hadn’t had a chance to read any of my previous A Taste of Garlic interviews with famous people…

And, sure enough, he hadn’t….

And, thus….

He agreed!

Not wishing to trust public transport, I jumped on my trusty bicycle and sped off down the hill towards the South of France!

Unfortunately, Mrs a Taste of Garlic had borrowed the chain off my bicycle to whip the pigs with (no, I don’t know why she does that but it seems to make her happy?)

And thus, I had no option….

But to resort to that old standby – an emailed interview!

I made sure that Robin was comfortably arranged with a medicinal bottle of red wine at hand and….

Then, I started!


The Robin Ellis Interview

interview writer  The Robin Ellis Interview   because we all love reading blogs about life in France1). Robin, your finest acting achievement was undoubtedly the portrayal of an undercover detective in the very first episode of that fantastically funny television series, Fawlty Towels

Did you worry about upstaging John Cleese and the rest of the cast or were you aware even then that they would probably cope when you moved on to bigger and better things but would be grateful for the opportunity to have learned from you?

And I’m not just talking about your masterly command of Spanish and Savoir Faire of the finer points of fine wine!

Robin - My episode was the pilot–so clearly its success encouraged John, Prue, Andrew and Connie to go on and record 11 more.

My Spanish went perfectly on the first take; but unfortunately there was a camera in shot and we had to go again

I managed a second but my palms were bloody at the end of it.

interview writer  The Robin Ellis Interview   because we all love reading blogs about life in France2). Still on the subject of acting (I’ll get to the important stuff in a minute), it should be mentioned that you weren’t always a star of comedy.

Indeed, you had to spend many years, treading the boards, as it were, playing the part of Ross Poldark in some television series that my Granny used to like.

Was this good practice for you and did it help you when it came time to utter those immortal words (when asked by Basil Fawlty if he wanted a single or a double room)…..

“Yeah. No, make it a double, I feel lucky today!”

Robin - I still had to work on the accent!

3). Onwards and upwards…

I understand you got your caks off in public on a freezing cold day in February 2003 in a protest against the war in Iraq.

What was that all about, then?

And did they really shrivel to the size of raisins?

Robin - a) It was Meredith’s idea – inspired by the photo of a similar stunt in the Guardian. We had no choice–the war was about to be launched.

We only made it into the local paper – but felt good about it!

b) No comment…

interview writer  The Robin Ellis Interview   because we all love reading blogs about life in FranceEditorial note: At this point I ought to mention that I had to take a little break and open a BIG bottle of wine!

Obviously, the sight of 18 (yes, I counted them – twice!) naked bodies was too much for me!

The interview continued once I had recovered!

Although, to be honest….

One never really recovers from seeing Ross Poldark lying on the grass showing his botty and willy off to all and sundry!

If you click on the picture to see it full size….
And the resulting profusion of dangly bits and wobbly bits gives you a heart attack….
Don’t blame me!

4). Now, on a totally serious note, you are diabetic and you’ve written a book about Delicious Dishes for Diabetics

What made you decide to do this and can you tell us a bit about it?

Robin – My mother was a type one diabetic–so when I was diagnosed 12 years ago with type two I took it seriously. She battled through to age 68 and died of a related heart attack.

I’ve cooked for years – inspired by Ma – and collected recipes.

I have always favoured Italian cooking over French (spoken in a whisper) – I like the simplicity of it.

After the diagnosis, on the advice of a friend, I read Michel Montignac’s (Read the Obituary that Robin wrote for the Guardian) Dine Out and Lose Weight, which encouraged me to follow the basic Mediterranean “way of eating” tenets – not that different to the way I’d been accustomed to eat in fact.

I don’t think diets work – people find them hard to stay with.

It meant changing a few old habits, but I found I missed surprisingly little.

5). You moved to France a few years ago. Why was this, and were you in any way tempted to move here in order to be closer to the girly charms of Vanessa Paradis?

Robin – Naturally – but sadly Johnny was already a twinkle in her eye.

We saw the house at 2pm and I bought it at 7pm.

It was priced very reasonably and I was doing voice overs and earning MONEY for the first time in my professional life.

I lost about two stone in the time it took to close the deal–worrying about it all going through smoothly.

I was committed – very strange, as I’d never thought to own a second home – let alone in France.

6). Talking of Vanessa Paradis…..

Her husband pretty much ripped off your portrayal of a handsome, manly, seafaring sex symbol.

How does it feel to have a lesser actor like Johnny Depp become successful on the back of all your hard work?

RobinI never claimed to be a seafarer so he’s sailing in uncharted waters as far as I’m concerned – good luck to him.

7). Your blog is full of fantastic recipes (I put on four kilograms just reading it!) – how much pleasure do you get out of cooking and do you believe that the altar, or fulcrum, of decent life is the kitchen table, and that good food, good friends and good wine really are the secret to a happiness?

Robin - a) A lot and

b) I do and

c) I do – simple answers to simple truths.

8). As a resident of the Tarn, what drew you to that area?

Was it the natural beauty, the friendliness of the locals or the wealth of local vineyards that attracted you?

Robin – Well it should interest the Taste of Garlic to know that l’ail rose de Lautrec – the famous pink garlic and arguably one of the great garlics of the world, is grown here.

Meredith, my wife, always says that when I heard this I went to the phone and offered the asking price.

9). Would advice could you offer to anyone dreaming jacking in a perfectly good job and moving to rural France in order to write a book about cooking?

Robin – Just do it!

10). Sea Bream is one of my favourite fishes.

Your recipe for Sea Bream roasted on a bed of thyme or rosemary (from your new book) is really very simple.

Do you believe, as I do, that good food should be allowed to “talk for itself” and that some of these modern fancy recipes might look good on television but are doing an injustice to the noble heritage of the raw ingredients and, more importantly, have you ever considered becoming a television chef and/or swearing in the kitchen like Gordon Ramsey?

Robin – a) (i) yes

a) (ii) uhm….

b) no

c) not only considered it! – though only at myself of course.

11).There are rumours, largely unsubstantiated, the Elvis Presley isn’t actually dead but is working as a part-time window cleaner in Lautrec and making some loose change (rather cheekily, in my humble opinion) as an Elvis impersonator in the local Karaoke bar.

Do you have anything to say about this and is it true that he sounds as good as the real thing?

Robin – The local bar is called Café Plum and has regular music nights – sadly I’ve never been there on a night when he’s performed – but thanks for the tip.

I don’t often check on how clean people keep their windows in Lautrec; something to do on market day this Friday!

12). Your blog has been going since February this year.

What prompted you to start it and have you met new people, or made new friends as a result?

Robin – a). My publisher – Constable Robinson set it up as a support for the book.

b). I have – A Taste of Garlic being a case in point.

This brave new blogging world is a wonder.

13). What did you think of France’s abysmal performance in the last World Cup?

Indeed, what did you think of England’s abysmal performance in the last World Cup?

Do you support an English football team and, if so, did they finish in the top five of the Premier League?

Robin – Answer to the last first:- I’ve supported Ipswich Town FC since they were in the Third Division South (I was born there) – I was at Wembley in 1978 when they beat Arsenal 1-0 to take the Cup.

Things have been a bit up and down since then!

Answer to the first two:- Abysmal.

14).It is generally considered that Que Je t’aime by Johnny Halliday is, quite simply, the finest piece of music ever peformed and should be the new French National anthem.

Do you feel that the great Johnny Halliday would make a better president than Nicolas Sarkozy and, more importantly, would Carla be happier and more content with “Big Johnny” than with “Little Nicky?”

Robin – a). Tempted to say wouldn’t anyone… But – he’d certainly be taller.

b). Saw Carla in the Woody Allen movie last week – she did a good job.

15). Back to the serious stuff as we are running out of time.

Diabetes – is it a death sentence or should people embrace the opportunity to eat differently and discover new tastes and flavours?

Robin – It’s true – there’s no cure yet for Diabetes, and “should” is a tricky word – OK, they should!

The reason for writing the book is exactly that; to demonstrate that you can eat well and enjoy all that you eat without feeling deprived.

OK – there are some constraints, and that is always difficult to start with; but as you say – the trick is to embrace the change.

After initially feeling: “damn! – why me?” I quickly saw the diagnosis as a wake-up call, something to take advantage of in terms of one’s overall health, as you grow older.

16). Still on the subject of food; you mention, on your blog, that… “My style of cooking is usually Mediterranean – based on olive oil, tomatoes and garlic.”

Do you feel that people don’t have enough Garlic in their lives and that, apart from keeping the doctors (and vampires) away, a daily dose of Garlic has special properties as an aphrodisiac?

Robin – A tryst with a truss (of garlic), would be a twist;

Mais – on ne sait jamais!

17). I’ve noticed that on your blog you have comments from people all over the world.

Do you feel that food, good food, is the universal language?

Do you feel that you are an ambassador?

Robin – a). It’s a nice thought and since you can’t talk with your mouth full – making appreciative noises about the food with someone whose language you don’t speak is just as good a way of communicating.

Not so posh – but I enjoy cooking food that people can enjoy together.

18). A night out with Melissa Theuriau (the sexiest newsreader in the world, for all you men who are pretending that the only reason you watch LCI is to improve your French) or, a meal cooked by Joël Robuchon?

How would you prefer to celebrate England winning the next world cup?

Robin – I’m not sure I’ll live that long – but looking on the bright side of life, I’ll settle for a plate of pasta(wholewheat) round the table at brother Jack and sister-in-law Christine’s house in north London with Theo and Alice if they are free, and Meredith of course, who decided way back that it was the beautiful game and that Sol Campbell was very talented – not bad judgement for an American I’d say.

19). Back to your book… Delicious Dishes for Diabetics

Does it have anything to offer to people who don’t suffer from diabetes?

In other words, does good food taste good, even if it is nice and healthy?

Robin – Should do – ask Meredith…!

The answer is a definitive “YES”, and that’s the point.

I have never cooked separately for Meredith.

20). Finally…

The really important questions…

a). Ricard or Pastis?

b). Have you discovered any new blogs by reading A Taste of Garlic?

c). After good food and good wine, is football (soccer, for any of the American persuasion who might happen to be reading) actually the most important thing in life?

d). Shall we wrap this up now? We can leave the production crew to tidy up and finish off and we could slope off to that bar you were telling me about….

e). That getting your caks off thing that you and your wife did as an anti war protest? I don’t suppose there are any photos?

Robin – a). Red wine.

b). I only found you yesterday–so not yet but I look forward to it.

c). I thought so once when I was goalie in the school team–my ambition was to play at Wembley – then I discovered acting and I had to make the choice…..

d). With pleasure – maybe it’s Elvis’ night on?

e). ………………a mercifully blurry one. I’m the one in the nude!


interview writer  The Robin Ellis Interview   because we all love reading blogs about life in FranceRobin, thank you very much for taking the time to be interviewed.

That pasta sauce that you’re cooking smells wonderful!

I don’t suppose….

I could have a nibble, could I?

This interviewing is hungry work!

I wish you (as I’m sure all of the visitors to Garlic do), all the success in the world with your book!

I’m sure that I’ll be reviewing your blog in the very near future…

And, until then…

Bon Appetite!

All the best

interview writer  The Robin Ellis Interview   because we all love reading blogs about life in France

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5 Comments

  • By Steve aka Mr TK, June 11, 2011 @ 5:14 pm

    Keith, you don’t half mix with the rich and famous, well virtually!
    I am so glad you did this interview, as reading Robin’s blog and being type two, it made me realise how I need more exercise, which is how controlled myself in the past. However you have seen what Mrs TK cooks and it would be rude not to eat it.
    Robin’s book looks a must for my birthday wish list.
    Nice to see you back on form.

  • By Jacqui, June 12, 2011 @ 12:44 pm

    Brilliant interview Keith – wouldn’t have expected anything less. My Dad is type 2, so this blog and book are going to be on my must read lists too, thanks.

  • By Marilyn Z.Tomlins, July 19, 2011 @ 4:39 pm

    Well done, Keith.

  • By Meredith Wheeler, July 20, 2011 @ 10:56 pm

    Robin’s book is now among the top ten on Amazon.uk’s list of “Hot New Releases in Diets & Healthy Eating”:
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/new-releases/books/271143
    It’s being launched on Aug. 5th–the day of the Lautrec Garlic Festival in the Tarn. Send me your snail mail address, Keith, so we can send you a copy!
    Thanks for the lovely interview.

Other Links to this Post

  1. “Here’s one I prepared earlier…!” « Robin Ellis — June 13, 2011 @ 3:44 pm

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