Recently and quite by chance, I came across mention of a book entitled Dining with the Famous and Infamous published in 2016 and authored by Fiona Ross. Now, whenever the opportunity arises to mix different things I enjoy into one experience, I typically leap with little thought. Since I consider myself a person with rather broad proclivities toward the gastronomic along with an inclination for the printed word, with this book involving both, I placed a reserve on it immediately. When it arrived, I was not disappointed.
The book contains five chapters that divide the diners into categories, with each person begin given a mere four or five pages each: artists, movie stars, musicians, writers, and “the nuts.” This is an outstanding format in that it allows the reader to jump from person to person based on his or her personal preferences. I admit that I began with the writers, with Evelyn Waugh first up to bat and being introduced with the following:
Cecil Beaton’s diaries famously record the death of Evelyn Waugh in 1966: “Evelyn Waugh is in his coffin. Died of snobbery.”
Well, a good laugh is an excellent way to begin any reading, really. And it continued on to C.S. Lewis:
He had unusual views about boiled eggs, though: when Roger Lancelyn Green offered Lewis a hard-boiled egg on the train from Oxford to Cambridge, he refused. “No, no, I musn’t!” insisted Lewis. “It’s supposed to be an aphrodisiac. Of course, it’s all right for you as a married man – but I have to be careful.”
While unshakably partial towards the writer, I must be honest that the anecdotes relating to movie stars and musicians were quite a bit spicier (and I refer not to the food), and I am fond of spice. From Liz Tylor’s love affairs with food (and men) to the whirlwind/tornado/tsunami that was the The Rolling Stones of the 1960s, the stories paint a picture of decadence that is apparently the status quo in the world of the halls of rock and the silver screen.
Naturally, Ms. Ross would be remiss if recipes were omitted. Highlights include:
“Get Gassed” Vodka and Grapefruit Juice (Andy Warhol)
Chicken Cacciatore to Woo Arthur Miller (Marilyn Monroe)
Cornmeal Okra (Woody Guthrie)
Goat Curry (Ian Fleming)
Of course, the full recipe details are provided in the book.