Having met Nancy, we can now fully appreciate the little snippets of wisdom with which she lards her book: ‘The Nancy Spain Colour Cookery Book’.
Here is Nancy on the tricky question of soup:
‘You either like soup or you don’t. One famous character in fiction, Augustus, the chubby lad in Heinrich Hoffman’s Struwwelpeter, actually ‘went off’ it with disastrous results (‘Take the nasty soup away, I won’t have any soup today’) and so lost his chubbiness and his health. Another, non-fictional character, the famous Lady Mendl, hated soup and said: ‘Never build a meal on a lake.’ She lived to be at least 90, enlivening the drawing-rooms of Paris by standing on her head.’
This is Nancy’s recipe for Frankfurter Vegetable Chowder, which puts me firmly in the Augustus and Lady Mendl camp on the soup question. If you cannot read it, the ingredients are: 3 rashers of bacon, 1 packet of vegetable soup (which is one way to make vegetable soup I suppose), 1 medium can of frankfurter sausages, 1 large can of butter beans, 1 teaspoon of tomato ketchup, and water.
Here is Nancy on the thorny problem of Bouillabaisse
‘Bouillabaisse as prepared by Venus for Vulcan or by a mythical Abbess faced by the Friday Fast Day in her convent, is one of the most argued-over of all meals. Is it a Soup? Or is it a main fish course? Like Thackeray, who gives a good sound basic Bouillabaisse in his Ballad of the same name, I like to think of it as a fish dish. (And How!)…I don’t know whether turtle counts as fish or meat, but turtle soup is about the only one I wouldn’t personally attempt to make. When I crossed the Atlantic on the Queen Elizabeth, Lord Clitheroe taught me to drink turtle soup between the oysters and the main course, but that’s hardly a hint for every day…’
I am relieved I know when to drink turtle soup now though. My only encounter with it previously having been with regard to the Walrus and the Carpenter.
Nancy has short shrift for vegetarians:
‘Although I often crave vegetables, I’m no vegetarian. Eat or be eaten is my motto…’
Nancy’s friend, the novelist ‘Colette’ also disapproves heartily of the vegetarian temperament:
‘One of the last times I visited her she spoke of pigs’ trotters in sauce vinaigrette, lingeringly, and with inspiration, as a genius should.’
I wonder how Stephen Hawking feels about pigs trotters?
Nancy does not shun greenery though. She is quite excited by salad:
‘Gone are the days when one took a hard-boiled egg and a tomato and chopped them in half and hurled them into a bowl with some chunks of nervous beetroot.’
Her ideas on salad however are rather meat based as in this:
Belgian Banger Salad – which involves chucking a pound of sausage at some chicory and letting them fight it out between themselves.
Or this, spectacularly odd:
Jockey Club Salad, where she has made canned pineapple jelly in the shape of jockey’s hats and set them atop a jaunty lettuce leaf.
Next we meet Nancy’s celebrity friends