Why We Love Alison Roman
It’s not just her love of food, or sharing of food, or writing on food – well, all that plays a part – it’s that Alison is such a fun, engaging proponent for throwing out the recipe book and riffing. Alison is always exploring, always learning - and always inspiring us.
"Vietnamese crepes (banh xeo) are the most delicious thing I've had in my life. It's tangy, crispy, crunchy and salty. It's so good. And I'm obsessed with it."
“Experiment. It’s not always about making a perfect plate of food; it’s about learning to cook, teaching yourself what you like and empowering yourself to riff and do your own thing.”
Alison’s Travel Essentials
- USB Charger: I am queen of 'do you have a charger I can borrow?', which I am trying to change by bringing my own.
- Travel bottles from Muji: I used to buy travel bottles every time I went somewhere, which meant switching products and spending money and wasting bottles. Now I buy small travel bottles and use them to put small amounts of the products I usually wear. Even the smells of the things I use at home make me feel more adjusted when traveling. It's the little things! Literally.
- Sunblock: If I'm outside for even 5 minutes I burn, especially on my face. I love this SPF from Supergoop.
- Water Bottle: Drinking water is the difference between feeling excellently rested and completely wiped, especially on long flights. I bring my own bottle and refill it a million times.
- Notebook: I travel with a small notebook wherever I go - helpful for writing down thoughts, feelings, the name of that one restaurant you never want to forget, ideas, etc. Especially when you're somewhere without wifi, or, if you just want to take a break from staring at your phone all day. Something small that fits into a travel bag is ideal - I like these small thin ones from Moleskine.
- Melatonin: It helps me sleep on red eyes and get back into a rhythm once I've landed, especially with regards to a long flight and huge time change.
Travel changes the way you see food, doesn’t it?
I’ve never looked at a dried chili the same way after I get back from Mexico. It kind of ruins you, but it also encourages you to find better ingredients and to source things here, but also to understand that some things are best to be enjoyed in the places you find them. If we could bring everything from every other place to where we live, what would be the point of traveling? That’s what makes it so special for me. It’s constantly inspiring.
What excites you about Vietnam?
Vietnam has been on my list of places to go for a really long time. And it’s not just because of the food but their use of ingredients that I personally love cooking with. They’re big on herbs, and lots of fresh citrus and really clean flavors. And the fact that it’s so different – how the food in one city is so radically different than the food in another city – that’s really interesting to me. I’m really looking forward to figuring that out.
What’s your favorite food you have to convince people to try?
Constantly it’s anchovies. Which is annoying, because they’re in a lot of food you don’t think they’re in. I think the idea of small, salted cured fish really freaks people out. I’ve cooked for people that I’ve snuck them into a dishes a million times. And they always think “this is so delicious.” It’s because it’s full of anchovies.
What’s your favorite go-to comfort food?
It’s absolutely pizza. In any form: high-brow pizza, low-brow pizza, expensive pizza, cheap pizza. Sometimes I’ll get a whole pizza for myself and I can’t eat it, so I freeze it and reheat it. Pizza in any form is the probably the food that makes me feel the best on the inside. At least emotionally speaking.
Let’s talk about smells. What’s your favorite smell?
I love the smell of laundry. Which is tragic because I’m actually allergic to laundry detergent. But when I walk by a place that’s doing laundry, it does it for me – because it’s really amazing. To pick one thing in the food world would be really limiting. A perfect peach is great, but so is raw garlic to me. But that feels a little cheesy, so I’m going to go with laundry.