John O'Connell lived on spaghetti bolognese and Birds Eye Steakhouse Grills until the mid 1990s, when he moved to London and discovered that, actually, there was a lot of other food out there and maybe it would be a good idea to try some of it? He worked for many years at the listings magazine Time Out, where somehow he persuaded the editor to buy a whole cow so that he could chronicle, in a weekly column, the experience of butchering and cooking it. He was made redundant shortly afterwards. He is the author of several books including I Told You I Was Ill: Adventures in Hypochondria and the novella The Baskerville Legacy. He writes regularly for The Times and Guardian and lives in south London. His favourite spice is cumin.