Began her TV series in 1953, when post-war austerity still lingered and the British palate was desperate for something a little more elaborate, preferably in a Mornay sauce. Her husband, the rather docile Johnny, was a useful asset, partnering her in monocle and dinner jacket while formidable Fanny barked out orders. They proved that cooking need be neither messy nor complicated.
While her belief that home should be "first and foremost in a woman's life" hardly marks her out as a feminist pioneer, Mrs Beaton's conviction that "frugality and economy are virtues without which no household can prosper" holds true 135 years on for busy souls craving a simple, well-balanced meal.Like Delia, her husband ran a magazine, in which her pearls of domestic wisdom first appeared.
Her interest in cooking blossomed on moving from Delhi to Golders Green where, missing the flavours of home, she implored her mother to send some recipes. She turned her mother's letters into the first of many books, and her TV and radio series persuaded the public they need not head off to the Star of Bengal; they could, with a little imagination, make a fragrant curry for themselves.
Perhaps the epitome of the bon viveur, famednot only for his love of food but also for his sizeable appetite for women and booze. The Floyd On ... programmes, gastronomic romps through far-flung locations, proved popular, though on a practical level we may ask what relation the consumption of monkey brains (on Floyd on the Far East) has to the average Brit's culinary habits.
Graham Kerr moved from a background in the catering trade and blundered into television to begin a widely syndicated cookery series, The Galloping Gourmet. More entertainment than education, his trademark was pulling an unsuspecting audience member on to the stage to share his creations. He relaunched himself as a self-styled "responsible cook" in the Eighties after his wife's stroke.
She is often credited as having shown the British how to savour culinary delights, though she pitched her exotic ingredients unashamedly at the upper-middle classes. Fine, if you'd the time for marinated lentil and goat-cheese salad; otherwise, you were likely to remain unmoved. But she is still a culinary idol. The fact that a "memorial picnic" was held at the ICA after her death says it all.Reuse content