WITH cookery her art-form, Josceline Dimbleby exposed the nation to fusion food with her best-selling books, supported recession-hit families with her recipes, and made variety king.

Last week the former Sunday Telegraph food columnist was the star of Bridgwater Arts Centre’s second thought-provoking talk.

Joining local foodie Fran Bunce and BAC novelist Sinead Gillespie, the trio discussed the rich, flavour-full tapestry of Josceline’s life.

From “dreaming recipes in her sleep”, to how the tastes of her travels, as a child in Syria, and grown woman eating halva on the Orient Express (among other experiences), came out in her culinary creations. Shepherd’s pie with cumin, a case-in-point.

“People at first thought it very strange, then they tasted it. Now, nothing like that seems strange at all,” said Josceline.

Then came the different ‘spiciness’ of ‘A Profound Secret’; the book in which Josceline uncovered her great-grandmother’s passionate affair with revered Pre-Raphaelite painter Edward Burne-Jones.

“He wrote her several letters a day, sending them compulsively, his writing paper stuck on his easel,” said Josceline. “No punctuation whatsoever, just like emails.”

Dimbleby may have been a Masterchef judge, and inspired her son’s nutritious LEON restaurants, yet she balked at the idea she might have trained as chef.

“I was bottom of the class in domestic science; my teacher was so boring. If ever she saw my books, she would’ve been totally amazed.”


· BACTALK Bridgwater in Photos – 50 Years of a Somerset Town is on Friday April 25 with Paul Bovett. Tickets cost £6 at bridgwaterartscentre.co.uk