I’m Jo Thomas and I write romantic fiction about food and love.
I’m not a chef, a farmer or even an enthusiastic amateur foodie with fancy knives, whizzy kitchen equipment and complicated recipes. I just love plain, simple, good quality food, made with love. I love the way food connects us and brings us all around the same table.
When I visit somewhere new, I’m fascinated how the food of an area can take me by the hand and lead me into the place’s history, its culture and introduce me to its people and customs.
When I first visited Galway and sat in a small restaurant at the end terrace of a row of fisherman’s cottages, looking out of a small window, light by candlelight, the moon came out and shone silver streak across Galway bay. That night I sat there and ate a plate of oysters with shallot and red wine dressing and discovered more about the oyster beds and the oyster festivals of the area and realised I had discovered the life blood of the place, its DNA and that I had to write about it in The Oyster Catcher.
Writing my second book The Olive Branch I visited one of my favourite restaurants. It’s set in the middle of a family-owned olive grove in Puglia in southern Italy, where everything is grown on the land and cooked on a big open fire: the forno. At the end of our meal the owner, Giuseppe, brought over a bottle of homemade limoncello and sat with us. He put down the bottle and poured us drinks. He asked me what kind of books I wrote. He didn’t speak English and I didn’t speak Italian. I told him I wrote about food and love. He told me life for him was all about the food that he grew on the land, to cook in the kitchen, to put on the table, and he slapped his hand on the scrubbed wooden worn table, for the people we love and he held his hand over his heart in the middle of his chest. And that, I agreed, is what I write about, the stories I tell, from the land, to the table for the ones we love.
I hope you enjoy looking around my scrapbook here and the photographs from my research trips. Then once you step into one of my books you’ll feel like you’ve joined me at the table: enjoy being well fed, some laughs and tears along the way and, when you finish, like you’ve had a great big hug at the end of a fabulous family feast.