Magazine article The Spectator

Eat to Get Rich

Magazine article The Spectator

Eat to Get Rich

Article excerpt

There wasn't a Dome in sight in Venice. anat from the onion-shaped things that make up the roof of St Mark's cathedral. Well, I lie. There was a dome in sight, but it was situated between my chest and my legs and was filled with lentils.

Over the Venetian New Year the most uninterrupted activity is the eating of these small brown pulses, often with large sausage slices on top. Their consumption apparently guarantees prosperity. The more lentils one eats, the richer one is supposed to become. On New Year's Day we ate out on the terrace of the Monaco hotel. The diners could be divided into wealthy patrons of the hotel - one could tell they were wealthy by the quality and size of their fur coats - and those of us who had wandered in off the street in our rabbitskin hats. The people in fur coats positively wolfed down the lentils, which perhaps explains why rich people are rich. They care so much about money they will risk putting on weight for it. Money doesn't change people it only reveals them.

There has been an extraordinary boom in Italian bits and bobs. Not the basics of its cuisine but odd things the Italians eat at certain times of the year. Some of them aren't even very good. Over Christmas one is less likely to suffer a crisis of faith than a crise de foie. The Italians are hardly ace on cakes, unlike the French or the Austrians. Yet every modish London food outlet has been full of panettone, that rather chewy Christmas cake filled with candied fruit and raisins. Whoever had the idea of importing panettone doesn't need lentils.

So it was that I scoured Venice for similar money-spinners. I then remembered that I bad written in this column last Easter about finding a shop in Venice which made erotic confectionery. And very good it is, too.

The aficionado may buy chocolate bars depicting all the positions in the Karna Sutra. These engravings are very tastefully done. I mean the people on the bars are only partially naked and are wearing some very nice jewellery which, as Anita Loos would have agreed, makes all the difference. Moreover the chocolate is superlative, especially the dark variety.

Now that's something we don't have in this country. I started importing some dark chocolate bars shortly before Christmas. It was a great hit with John Humphrys, I gave him a whole set depicting six positions. Two days later it was announced he was having it baby. I shall do the thing seriously soon and offer a concession to Marks & Spencer. …

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