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LETTER:No poverty of ideas here, Delia

From Ms Betty Cairns

Sir: If Delia Smith follows Louise Levene's advice (17 January) and produces a basic cookery book for people with little knowledge or cash, she will be in very illustrious "cooking" company indeed.

Both Fracatelli, Queen Victoria's chef, and the great Alexis Soyer of the Reform Club produced just such cookery books, giving advice on utensils and cheap nourishing dishes. The emphasis was very much on soups and various "puddings" to eat with meat and fish, and the recipes were geared to large poor Victorian families. Soyer's Shilling Cookery Book for the Artisan sold 264,000 copies in 13 years, a vast sale for those days. Soyer also produced a Charitable Cookery book for use by those running soup kitchens, several of which Soyer funded himself.

Possibly our current cookery icons may care to consider Soyer's comment, in his 6p Cookery Regenerator (all profits to the Irish famine fund)

it requires more science to produce a good dish at a trifling expense than a superior one with unlimited means.

Yours sincerely,

Betty Cairns

London, N22