Antonio Carluccio

I once went mushroom hunting with Antonio Carluccio on Wimbledon Common. It was early in the morning and we came well equipped; me with camping gas and frying pan, him with stick, sharp knife, garlic and a small bottle of olive oil.

It was an absolute delight of discovery, his enthusiasm was overwhelming and infectious. Nobody about except a couple of dog walkers.At first the mushrooms were difficult to spot, but under his brilliant teaching, I eventually got my eye in. We gathered enough for a panful, eating a glorious picnic. He’d even got a lump of bread in his pocket to soak up the juices.

As we walked back to the car park, with me marvelling at our morning’s feast, we were stopped by a warden who accused us of lighting a fire on the Common. One of the dogwalkers had reported us. Antonio deployed all his charm and we got off with a warning.

As we got into the car, Antonio giggled and said, “Only in England.”

A lovely, generous, life-enhancing man. Ciao Antonio.

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