I’m ashamed to say that I really don’t remember any of the (I’m sure utterly nutritious) meals that my mother cooked us in childhood – apart from the time she tried to pretend the meatloaf wasn’t made from nutmeat – but we had an innate sense that told us that rubbery substance was not mince! My mother is a great cook and over the years has embraced and mastered the food of many nations. So it’s a sorry thing to admit that the childhood meal that I always wanted for a treat was the trip to the Pizza Hut for all-you-can-eat pizza, salad and dessert. It was so rare to ever eat out that the Pizza Hut was probably the first place I ever ate food that we paid to have cooked for us. Back then there was none of this thin and healthy crust business, I loved the thick crunchy crusts and the slatherings of tomato paste and cheese. It was marvellous to see how many (possibly salmonella-ridden) types of salads could be assembled in the one place. And the desserts! All manner of soft serve, trifles and other mushy goodness that you were allowed to anoint (by yourself!) with a range of improbably coloured sprinkles and nuts. Pizza Hut was the heart of fine dining for my childhood self. Any birthday occasion I’d want to be there, surrounded by our small family, my parents, brother and my mother’s parents. I’m not sure how they viewed the culinary heights of the salad bar, but any sarcasm probably went over my head at this age. All this reminds me that, lovely as it is to have a beautiful, finely crafted meal with exquisitely blended flavours, it’s gathering together that counts. I like to have people to dinner, but in the age of MasterChef etc. there can be a shame factor around cooking. If you don’t produce gourmet delights, it’s just not good enough. But a can of supermarket soup and some went-stale-but-has-been-reheated-crusty-bread shared between friends can be warmer and more memorable than the feasts of kings.