Here they all are, fresh as paint, as if they'd never been away. Why did we let them go? Neglected, derided, dismissed as hopelessly naff, in what dismal Midlands eateries have they been waiting out the years of shame? No matter, they're back. Prawn Cocktail, Steak and Chips and Black Forest Gateau are the signature dishes of The Prawn Cocktail Years, a bravura collection of favourite restaurant dishes from the Fifties, Sixties and Seventies--years when Britain was learning to eat out. How evocative the recipe titles are (the authors describe a Proustian moment when the memories came pouring out): Coquilles St-Jacques, Sole Veronique, Beef Stroganoff, Mixed Grill, Swedish Meatballs, Wiener Schnitzel, Chicken Maryland, Crepes Suzette, Peach Melba and Profiteroles. Simon Hopkinson and Lindsey Bareham remind us firmly that although these may not chime with present food fashions (or prejudices), they were loved in their time and should be again, because when well made they are very good dishes indeed. They need no apology or special pleading.
The time machine of The Prawn Cocktail Years visits a number of favourite establishments over the years: the Fifties Hotel Dining Room, the Gentleman's Club, the Continental Restaurant. It looks into the coffee-bar madness that was Expresso Bongo (unexpectedly, perhaps, offering Cornish Pasty and Sausage Rolls for refreshment here), the Sixties Bistro, the Tratt-Era and Chez Gourmet; and returns us to the present burning to throw out our sun-dried tomatoes and lemon-grass and get down to making a good Fish Pie and Brown Bread Ice-Cream. Readers of a certain age, as they say, will be thrilled to see these old friends again; younger readers may care to discover what we ate before cooking became the new rock 'n' roll.
CONDITION: Browning to top edge of pages and slightly corner bumped with minor staining to bottom spine edge of DJ but otherwise clean and bright inside with no inscriptions or notations.