Saturday 21 March 2009

The secret gourmet

This interesting restaurant review in The Evening Standard quotes Len Deighton as one of the verifiable sixties 'restaurant hounds' who were known for their love of good food an modern cuisine in the swinging sixties 'scene' in London.

Referring to the growth of Italian resturant chic in London in the sixties, the article says: "Len Deighton, in those days an illustrator, was an early customer [of La Trattoria Terazza], introduced by his agent, who organised a bill-signing facility for his client. Other artists and designers were also allowed accounts, photographers brought models, showbiz correspondents brought Hollywood stars and that sine qua non of a restaurant’s arrival, the presence of Princess Margaret, was achieved. Deighton makes the point that at the time London’s grand hotels were turning away a surplus of skilled applicants for kitchen and waiting duties who were anxious to improve their English."

Of course, one of the lesser-known (now, at least) aspects of Deighton's career is that in the sixties he was as known for his writing on food and gourmet cooking as he was for his thrillers, and was well known on the party circuit of the great and the good for his dinner parties. His Action Cook Book and his writing on French cuisine - as well as his innovative cookstrips for The Observer newspaper which were an entry point for many to the world of French cooking which, in sixties London with its Lyons Coffee Houses and its Brown Windsor Soup as the apogee of cooking, were a revelation.

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