Magazine article The Spectator

Food: Imperative Cooking: For Richer, for Poorer

Magazine article The Spectator

Food: Imperative Cooking: For Richer, for Poorer

Article excerpt

DOES affluence make for better cooking and eating? Let's put the question rather more narrowly: do those of you who are now middle-aged and middle-incomed cook and eat better than you did when you were younger and had much less to spend on food?

I have been musing upon this since having to review a book on pleasure - lots of pleasures, not just food. It claimed to find that ladies were slightly happier than chaps, that the well-off were slightly happier than the poor but not much and the very well-off were no happier than the well-off; and that previous poor generations were no less happy than present richer ones. Think about these claims. If true, they rather upset some very large apple-carts. There's no sense in feminists making girls more like gents if it will make them more miserable and very little point in the redistributive plans of the vast poverty industry.

And if it's true that we ate as well when young and comparatively poor as we do now, it makes getting older and richer rather pointless, and with them all that career and getting-on business.

My first attempt to answer the more general question -- whether the rich eat better than the poor - led me to what the sociologists call unobtrusive observation, first outside an expensive and supposedly good restaurant and then outside a run-down cafe patronised by people in track-suit bottoms and anoraks. My 'findings' were rather disconcerting. Both rich and poor looked miserable when they went in and bored when they came out. This must be because they are both English. Culture counts for more than income.

I then tried the second question whether we Imperative cooks cook and eat better when poor or rich. Going through old notes and memories quickly established what Mrs A and I used to eat 25-35 years ago. We cooked navarin of neck chops when spring veg were cheap, lots of boiling bacon, hands of pork and pig extremities, feet, ears and tails. Indeed about the only recipe we invented was extremities stewed in a heavy tomato sauce with lots of garlic and served with (previously dried) beans. It's called 'glue'. There were oven pasta dishes such as lasagne with minced pork and the cheap ends of salami. Boiling hens make a regular appearance, English with parsley sauce, French with wine or tomato or just with lentils. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.