I've got a really funny photo of me as a little kid in Italy, covered in tomato sauce, trying to fit a pile of spaghetti wrapped around a fork into my cakehole. A classic.
My family enjoy reminding me that the first thing I said as a baby wasn't Mama or Dada but choc-choc, as they opened a packet of Cadbury's Buttons.
My parents divorced when I was four. I was mainly raised by a working mum who didn't have much time or inclination for making food. So I had three or four basic meals: fish fingers and a tomato; a packet scotch egg and a tomato; pasta with a tin of tomatoes; and extra mild plastic-y cheddar chopped into cubes with bits of cucumber. Also marzipan from the corner shop. Whenever I see marzipan it takes me back to evenings eating with mum, while watching EastEnders.
I didn't like school meals. I ate them for a few years, because I didn't want to make a fuss, then stopped. Then I brought bits of cucumber, a bag of crisps and a sandwich to school – often with parma ham in, because we had family in Italy who'd bring it over.
Mum doesn't like it when I mention that Dad's a better cook than her. He was born in Spain and spent eight years in Portugal and is exceptional at lots of cuisines. My stepfather, who's Chinese, is a great cook, too. In fact the men in my life always have been. I was once in a long relationship with a man who ran a vintage clothes store but had been a chef, so I'd come home each night to a different three-course meal. I was quite fat, but so happy.
My first ever job, illegally, at 15, was in a cafe in Islington. I was washing up for 10 hours a day, next to chickens boiling for sandwich fillings. All the nails fell out of my hands because they didn't give me rubber gloves, and the smell of boiled chickens makes me sick to this day.
I only started cooking when I left home at 18, to go to dance school in Leeds. I didn't do drugs, smoke or drink so I spent most of my money on cooking. My mother would ring up and ask: "What have you had for dinner today?" I'd say: "Steamed salmon with bok choy and various Asian-inspired things," and she'd reply: "That's not student food!"
I woo people with food, of course I do. I want people to fall in love with me, men and women, and not necessarily in a sexual way, so I'm always cooking. I really like to please people and I think it's a symptom of being an only child. I want to be adored and food is something I associate with that.
Paloma Faith is on tour in June. The album Fall From Grace (RCA) is out now
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