Gli Anni di Cocktail di Gamberetto*

(*The Prawn Cocktail Years)

I got back from Italy on Sunday, and a wonderful time it was. Tuscany was looking at its most beautiful for many years.  The weather was perfect  – glorious sunny days and cool nights. (Apart from the last two days of massive thunderstorms and well, frankly, extremely cold wet rain, that is… all the better for returning to London with).

So I suppose you might have been imagining some photos of beautiful grey and white Sienese churches and lone cyprus trees silhouetted against Tuscan hilltops.

Well, instead, I thought it would be more amusing to share a little cooking moment that Valentina and I had. On our last evening (during the one on the massive rainstorms) we started preparing supper for our friend Catherine and her sister Lucy who were coming over from their farmhouse across the valley for supper (could you get more Chiantishire? No, you couldn’t).

That morning we had bought some lovely chicken from the butcher, Macelleria Chini, and herbs and vegetables from the corrupt but faithful greengrocer in Gaiole-in-Chianti. Yes, it felt like winter and we were going to make a casserole. (what’s the Italian for casserole anyone?).

Putting the ingredients out to get ready, we realised we had stepped into a 1970s cookbook. Without even trying.



I was a little reminded of Entertaining with House and Garden that I wrote about a few weeks ago.  

But then, even better, Val found the perfect companion to our little moment of fun, Ada Boni’s famous ‘Italian Regional Cooking’. Look at that beautiful title page. And then LOOK at the photographs. They take food styling to an extreme.

How achingly dull is a page from “Jamie’s Italian” by comparison (lets face it, just how many photos of a vespa and of the f**king cheeky chef can we take?). No, this is the REAL THING. You have been warned – it gets a little bit gruesome towards the end.  

Would you send Bridie and me your photos inspired by the best cookery photography of the 1970s please? Happy Holidays, and all the best of the silly season.











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