Magazine article The Spectator

Diary: Prue Leith

Magazine article The Spectator

Diary: Prue Leith

Article excerpt

My Cambodian daughter and her husband have just got married again. Wedding One was a Buddhist affair in our drawing room, complete with monks, temple dancer, gold umbrellas, brass gongs, three changes of costume and a lot of delicious Cambodian food. That was family only, so this time she had the works: the full meringue, 200 guests, village church (she sees no conflict between Buddhism and Christianity), marquee, fireworks. Time was when wedding guests were the parents' chums and the bride and groom went off as soon as the cake was cut and the bouquet thrown. Now the parents' friends don't get a look in. Not on day two either, when the couple's friends return for the hangover party. So on day three we had local oldies' day. We hired a hog roast, a gourmet burger van, an ice-cream truck and a coffee van. Huge success. I have a lot of foodie friends but Mr Whippy, complete with e-number sprinkles, had the longest queues.

This spring we drove slowly from Charleston to Philadelphia. My, those Southerners know how to turn a puddle into a visitor attraction. Every second house was a museum. In Savannah, we whizzed through the crowds on Segways. Why are we the only country in Europe to ban Segways on public roads? They are eco-friendly, and safer, slower and more fun than bikes.

I've spent the summer on mini-jaunts closer to home. I went to a pig-and-beer dinner in Chipping Campden. The five local craft beers, all very different and chosen to go with the various pork courses, were served in wine glasses. A revelation to this lifetime wine drinker. And no thick head in the morning.

I spent a weekend, or what was left of it after a five-hour jam on the A1, at Malton in Yorkshire, where the Naylor-Leylands behave as land-owning toffs should behave. They use their money and influence to boost the town, restoring and running the hotel, opening a cookery school, providing incubator space for start-up food businesses, backing weekly food markets and an annual festival, resisting the temptation to take high rents from supermarkets. They'd rather have an empty shop than a tenant who won't buy into their plan to make Malton the food capital of Yorkshire, if not the country.

After Malton, Ireland. I have never heard anyone say a bad thing about Ballymaloe: the place, the hotel, the cookery school, anything. …

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