When I was a teenager and venturing in to the wild world of cooking for myself every ingredient I discovered was a revelation. I was a vegetarian until I was twenty and there were numerous times that people forgot to cater for me and I would watch them, friends, relatives, my grandmother almost every time she cooked for us, fashioning me a last minute meal. I remember a friend we were staying with on Arran cooking fried potatoes with eggs and sweet chilli sauce, and from that point on I put sweet chilli sauce on everything for months. Cumin was one of the ingredients that I felt I had discovered for myself, and for a while I would try incorporating it into everything I made. I have a particularly strong memory of cooking myself fried eggs with lots of cumin – thinking of it now makes me feel a little unwell – but at the time I felt I had discovered the secret to cooking.