Best of times, worst of times: Martin Lewis

Categories: Behind the stalls

The likes and dislikes of Martin Lewis of Une Normande a Londres

Fantasy job
Being on stage in a band. I used to play guitar a lot, generally rock-based stuff with some country thrown in. It’d be great to do something creative, like be a musician, and then get up in front of a crowd.

Worst job
My first job was in a warehouse and involved lifting toilets and baths onto vans for 15 hours a day. Not great but not terrible, so in terms of rubbish jobs I’ve probably been quite lucky.

Favourite recent film
Frank. It’s about a surreal band with this enigmatic frontman who wears a giant prosthetic head all the time. It is a very charming, character based film which just stuck with me. I’m definitely more of an independent film kind of guy.

Fantasy holiday destination
Of the places I’ve visited already I’m a big fan of Ireland. It is a great place to go and do nothing. There’s greenery, pubs and greenery next to pubs. And that is my ideal type of holiday. With my Celtic skin I’m not a big fan of beach holidays, I go straight from pale to burnt.

Favourite city
Amsterdam—but not for the obvious reasons. I think it is a really beautiful city, with its small canals and really interesting architecture and it has a vibrant cultural scene. Actually if I was going to live anywhere else I would live there. It is culture driven, easy to explore—and everyone speaks English!

Least edifying night out
That was a gig I played with a band called The Lemmings. I was about 17 and a grand total of three or four people turned up. Two of the strings on my guitar snapped—or may have even been broken before the gig, I can’t remember. The band lasted for about two weeks in total, so that night was part of a pretty forgettable experience all round.

Favourite dish as a child
I have always been a big fan of Italian food. I loved homemade pizzas, but spaghetti bolognese was my absolute favourite.

Signature dish
I make a pretty mean tartiflette. It is a really rich cheese, bacon and potato bake, made using reblochon, a French cheese produced in the Savoy region of the Alps. If I am doing any cooking it is normally very heavy; you won’t often catch me making a salad.

Worst kitchen disaster
The first time I tried to make my own bread was absolutely catastrophic. I didn’t have any measuring kit so I was guessing at the weights. I had told my brother and sister that I was going to make them some fresh bread, which they were really excited about.

I’m not sure now how I managed it but when they got home they were faced with something that looked like porridge on a plate. There was absolutely nothing redeeming about that experience.

Most memorable dining experience
I can still remember the first time I had raclette. It was here at the Market just after I had started working for Une Normande a Londres. One of my colleagues had a raclette machine. The process was almost as good as the meal because you had these little pans and you put them under the grill and melted the cheese in the pans.

Then you took the potatoes and salad and you just poured the melted cheese all over everything. It was a very social experience with different people watching what was happening. For me food is as much about the people you are eating it with as the taste of the food itself.

Favourite historical figure
Frédéric Chopin. I was introduced to him by a Polish girlfriend I once had. He wrote absolutely beautiful melodies and for me he is one of the greatest composers of all time.

Favourite sport
Football. I’m a Spurs fan and watch them on a regular basis—on the box mostly, like everyone else. I am also a really big fan of pub games, I can happily watch darts or snooker for hours.

Least favourite sport
That has to be cricket. I grew up in Essex, where it is a really big thing, but I just can’t get into it. Don’t really understand it: all I see is a guy hitting a ball with a bat.

Album of the moment
Now the sun is coming out and people are getting into a more optimistic and relaxed mood as they feel the warmth of the sun I have been listening to the Jimi Hendrix Experience quite a bit. It just sums up the sunny feeling.

Last good book
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. It features one of the best literary characters ever written: a giant cat called Behemoth. It is an amazingly funny book, I would recommend it to anyone.

Best gig this year
That was a collective called The Boredoms—basically about 30 drummers, with everyone banging in unison on kits on stage. It was very intense, a sort of tribal experience. I have never seen anything like it. The drummers come from all over the world, and the number of drum kits changes with the size of the venue, sometimes reaching 50. Even if you are not a fan of experimental music, it is worth going to see.

Best thing about London
The never-ending discoveries you can make in this city. You can walk for 20 minutes in a place you know well and still find something you didn’t know was there. There are always little independent shops and small pubs to be discovered in little alleyways and side streets. I also love the variety of people you meet from all over the world. If you engage with the city it really expands your horizons.

Worst thing about London
Getting around if you’re in a hurry can be a lesson in frustration.

Tipple of choice
I’m a big cider man. New Forest Cider make some absolutely delicious stuff. I would love to go to the New Forest on a cider-based holiday. It sounds a bit dangerous, but I think it would be great.

Hangover cure
Full English breakfast. No question.