Leading article: Hunger is the best sauce

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Two of the great public appetites in modern Britain have been for celebrities and cook books. So Gwyneth Paltrow might be forgiven for thinking she is going to do well with her new tome in which the American actress outlines some of her favourite recipes and her general philosophy on food.

But is Ms Paltrow's timing really so terrific? Food inflation is set to spiral in the new year. Many families are feeling the economic pinch. Do people really want to be lectured on the virtues of nutrition and brown rice by a wealthy Hollywood actress? We shall see.

Yet we should not assume that when times get tough, diets get more boring. Here are some of the recipes from Aunt Sammy's Radio Recipes, a popular cookbook in the United States in the 1930s, when the country was in the trough of the Great Depression: "Baked bean sandwiches, meat loaf, fresh beef tongue, liver and bacon, oxtail stew, scalloped cabbage and apples."

There is some simple and hearty fare there, but also some items that would not look out of place on the menu of a swanky modern restaurant.

Perhaps, when times get hard people heed the advice of Orson Welles: "Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what's for lunch."

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