An Interview with Mina Holland, Food Writer and Author Of ‘the Edible Atlas’

interview that includes a box of freshly made tortellini, a
walk on Hampstead Heath, and a pint of midday cider is fine by us.
Which is why, after spending a sunny morning with Mina Holland, we
swiftly made it our mission to turn her into our best friend.

Writer, intrepid eater and editor of Guardian’s Cook magazine,
Mina has many a string to her bow. Her first foray into the food
industry came during her time working at a London advertising firm,
of which she quickly grew weary. Mina tells us, “I realised that
the high point of my day was getting on the tube and burying my
head in a novel. En route back home I’d pick up my food shopping
and cook a meal, and I found more creative expression in those
rituals than I ever did at the ad firm. I began to think of ways to
combine my two greatest loves: reading and food.”

After leaving the advertising firm, Mina began work as
contributing editor at Observer Food Monthly, before finally
landing the role as editor at Cook. In her time there, Mina has
brought food writing back to life with a focus on culinary stories
as well as a spring of fresh recipes. This year, she introduced the
; a weekly column that chronicles the industry’s most
exciting faces through personal, anecdotal prose: “Not cheffy
types, but cooks with stories to tell.”

I began to think of ways to combine my two greatest loves: reading and food.

Those featured include Rachel Roddy, the Hemsley sisters, Claire
Ptak and, soon, Olia Hercules. “The food media has become largely
dominated by recipes, which is great, but it’s the stories behind
those recipes that really interest me, which I think many
publications have lost sight of,” says Mina. “Food and stories sit
hand-in-hand, and a dish feels much more charged with poignancy
when you know who has cooked it and where it has come from.”

The Edible Atlas presents itself like a novel; something to be
savoured and read back to front. Mina has a true, almost nostalgic
passion for words, and they lend themselves to food perfectly. A
second book is now in the works, a set of oral histories about
recipes passed down through the generations. “It comes back to
stories, as always,” says Mina. “When I was a child, going to a
restaurant was this incredible treat and my mum’s food seemed so
mundane, boring even. But now my greatest indulgence is going home
and having her cook for me. My culinary foundations are with her,
and I think that’s the case for a lot of people, so it’s that human
dimension to food that really inspired the book.”

In her work as both a writer and editor, Mina is encouraging us
to delve into dishes beyond just cooking and eating, proving that
within food we can find some of the most profound stories of a
person or place. “Food is universally relatable. We all eat!” She
laughs and continues, “I’m incredibly proud to be part of the
London food scene. It’s one that’s just getting better and

Mina Holland’s Top 5 London Eats






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