At home my mom did the cooking. It was me, my two sisters and my mom. She cooked mostly Caribbean dishes: lamb and rice, chicken curry and rice, sometimes goat curry, rice and peas, but that would be for a wedding or something. You wouldn’t eat curried goat all the time. It’s crazy when I think about it, because when you have kids and you just got back from work, I can see how easy it is to put some french fries in the oven. But my mom always cooked from scratch. To this day, it still does.
We could not to pay the supermarket. My mother would get a lot from the markets, mainly East Street or Brixton Market. We ate a lot of fish: snapper, sometimes bream. Only since I’ve gotten older have I eaten other fish, like sea bass, for example. Yes, we weren’t eating sea bass.
My father is Rastafarian and he is vegan. He used to grow all his own vegetables; actually, it is almost part of the Rastafarian religion. We went to my dad’s house a lot on the weekends and everything was fresh: he grew his own tomatoes, his own lettuce. So I’ve always been around fresh produce before it turned into something like, you have to eat five a day. It was simply the norm.
We never measure food. A teaspoon of seasoning? It does not happen. Just throw it out and move on.
A gift would be a Chinese On a friday. Pizza Hut was a big problem. I remember the ad for Viennetta, the way the chocolate was on top and then the knife would cut it and everything would creak. If you bought KFC, you would get it with a KFC meal for dessert. And it just looked like, “Wow, you eat Viennetta, you must be rich, man.”
In my standup, I talk about “interrupted people’s meals”. One of my personal favorites when I was a kid, when my mother was a bit seedy, was corned beef and rice. Even as an adult, that’s one of the best foods. The way my mother did it is she would fry the corned beef with some onions, add some plum tomatoes and an all-purpose seasoning. Before you know it, this corned beef looks like a real dish. You have it with some rice, some stale bread, some banana, and let me tell you something, that’s a hit, a hit! – meal that will serve five people for two nights for £ 10.
When you are on the road, as a comic, you really eat badly. You go to gas stations, fast food. If you are about to go on stage you don’t want to have a heavy meal because I am quite a physical comedian and I also sweat a lot. And after finishing his adrenaline is so high that he is very hungry. Returning from an evening show at 12 o’clock, your only option is a kebab and then you have to take a train back to London.
I know of some comics that pack their own food. They could have a plastic bowl of pasta or something. I tried it once with a microwave curry that I had. I ate, well. Then at night I got food poisoning. Then I thought, “I’ll never do that again.”
If i have a long day where am i doing a Masked singer or a Masked dancer, you want to eat healthy, but foods with slow-burning energy. Something like A sweet potato salad, with rice on the side, that’s perfect. I remember from the start, I think it was in Narstie’s big show one of the runners said, “I can get you a Nando’s.” And I was like, “Ahh great, I’ll just get a quarter chicken with fries and salad.” I could feel it sitting on my stomach the entire time we were filming.
Locked up, I baked cookies. The first time I put the whole egg in and realized: “Oooh, these cookies taste a little like egg.” Then he had the wrong flour and he had to get the right flour. Then I was wrong about sugar. In the end I got them right and it was great, but at the same time, I thought, “That’s too much for some cookies, man, I’d rather just buy them.”
I’ve always been around chicken: Jerk Chicken, Curry Chicken, Brown Stew Chicken … What you can do with chicken is amazing. I tried to be a pescatarian, but after six months, I just had to eat a huge piece of jerk chicken. How other cultures use this meat fascinates me. If you think you’ve eaten it all with chicken, someone will show you something you’ve never eaten before.
Everyone says They make the best mac n cheese but I think mine is up there. I use almost every type of cheese known to man – so I’ll use mozzarella to get that nice stringy effect, I’ll put some red leicester on it, obviously ripe cheddar. Sometimes I also squash some Wotsits and sprinkle them on top. I can’t say it’s my invention. I saw another guy do it, but he did it with Doritos, so I thought, “I’ll try Wotsits.” When i did my show [The Lateish Show with Mo Gilligan] we had Kelis there and she is also a great cook. So we made a version of my mac n cheese and hers. And even Kelis liked it.
My favorite things
It has to be a chicken, rice, and pea stew, with salad and coleslaw, and maybe a little banana as a side. Preferably cooked by my mom because I know my mom’s flavors very well. When people say, “What would your death row meal be?” It would probably be that. It’s just comfort in food.
I love a mojito. That drink is so superior. I like them quite sweet with a lot of sugar and mint and the crust. Sometimes you can even have the occasional little green fly in there – that’s an added flavor.
Difficult but I have to say After hours in New Cross. It’s open until midnight, and while everyone else is eating a kebab, I go home with rice, peas, and banana. That’s top notch for me, man.
Dish to make?
They would have to be my idiot chicken wings. That’s the only thing people come to my house and it’s like [surprised]: “Oh, these are really pretty! Have you made them yourself?
New The Lateish Show series with Mo Gilligan begins July 23 on Channel 4; Mo Gilligan and Friends: The Black British Takeover is at the O2 Arena December 8, 2021
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism