Jo Thomas writes books about food and love set in gorgeous locations around the world. She loves the way food connects us and brings us all around the same table. When she visits somewhere new, she is fascinated by how the food of an area can take her by the hand and lead her into the place’s history. Here, she take us behind the scenes of how her stories begin…
All my stories start as if I’m walking into my kitchen pantry and seeing what ingredients I’ve got there and what I can make. I usually start with the setting, the country.
When I used to go on holiday, before the days of iPads and tablets, I would pack recipe books in my case. I wanted to arrive, shop and cook the flavours of the place I was visiting. I think, once you discover the food of a place, it takes you by the hand and introduces you to history and the culture and the character of the place.
These days I decide on the country I want to set my next story and then I go and stay in a James Villa property where I can start to dig and find out about the food most associated with the place. I start to get a sense of the place I’m writing about; the smells, the colours, the tastes of the food and meet the people. I want to imagine I’m living there, that my villa is my home for the time I’m there. I want to experience life as a local and that often starts by visiting the market and the restaurants; touching the produce and cooking in the country I’m in. That’s why I love to have a villa and a kitchen of my own. I can shop, cook and taste the food that grows in the surrounding soil. And this is where the stories start to grow, by getting a real taste of the place.