(You may think you’re wiser… and it can be good fun)

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE - FOOD, DRINK and OTHER MAT­TERS with Pa­trick Skin­ner

A chap I know sent me a note the other day, which (omit­ting the four-let­ter and other rude words) in­cluded the lines: “How old are you now, you silly old ****? You must be 90! So why the **** are you still writ­ing that stuff ev­ery week?” My an­swer was sim­ple: “Be­cause I like writ­ing”.

I was 23 when I started do­ing it for my liv­ing. It was film pub­lic­ity, but as an in­de­pen­dent PR per­son, I moved on af­ter a few years of that to more gen­eral ma­te­rial, mostly about cook­ing, food and wine. When I gave up PR on our move to Cyprus “to re­tire” I found I needed to write with a dead­line, so I of­fered my ser­vices to lo­cal pa­pers and mag­a­zines and have writ­ten ev­ery week for more than 20 years.

I did ac­tu­ally tell my chum I shall be 85 next week. “Go­ing to stop then?” he asked. I thought for a mo­ment and I re­mem­bered go­ing to a wake in Lon­don to celebrate the life of a far, far greater wine and food writer than I, An­dre Si­mon, whose life spanned 93 years, dur­ing which he wrote 104 books. For 33 years he was one of Lon­don’s lead­ing cham­pagne sip­pers; for another 33 years ac­tive pres­i­dent of the Wine & Food So­ci­ety. “My tar­get is another 15 years”, I replied, “If ed­i­tors will still print what I write”.

The wake for M. Si­mon last two days, and was held at a res­tau­rant run by a well known food writer, Mar­guerite Costa and her quite-alot- younger hus­band, chef Bill Lacey. How much it cost, I shud­der to think - hun­dreds of peo­ple seemed to drop in to drink the health of the de­parted – to the point where the wine stock ran out and crates more had to be brought in from a neigh­bour­ing wine shop.

This week I shall be fin­ish­ing a book that has been in work a long time – my ac­count of life as a child in Eng­land be­fore, dur­ing and af­ter World War II. With the help of my son and daugh­ter in re­gard to cover de­sign and pre­par­ing it as an E-book, I hope it will be avail­able on-line in a week or two. ta­ble for four across the aisle.

I had been given what seemed to be a sub­stan­tial cash sum to pay for meals. But I felt con­cern as the four­some started with large Scotch and so­das and con­tin­ued with a bot­tle of an ex­cel­lent Bur­gundy from Bri­tish Rail­ways Cel­lars (at that time they had one of the finest and most ex­ten­sive range of French wine). Then a sec­ond. A third. And a fourth. Ralph Thomas, saw the con­cern on my face. “Don‘t worry Pa­trick, we’re pay­ing for this – and for your half bot­tle of Beaune!”

We spent the whole five hours of the trip in the din­ing car and when Ralph Thomas paid the bill shortly be­fore ar­rival at New­cas­tle he gave the wait­ers a very sub­stan­tial tip, which saw us off with great good­will. My three charges were com­pletely sober by this time – more so than I was af­ter my lit­tle half bot­tle!

1. Place all the in­gre­di­ents in a large bowl and mix well to­gether.

2. Cover the bowl re­frig­er­ate for half an hour.

3. Use a deep fryer or heavy pot with plenty of sun­flower oil. 4. Heat the oil. 5. Shape the mix­ture into lit­tle balls (around the size of a ta­ble ten­nis ball).

6. Deep fry in batches of 10 – 12 un­til the out­sides are crisp and golden brown. Keep cooked Keft­edes warm and serve as quickly as pos­si­ble.


A pour-gourri Pi­laffi will go well with this, plus a chopped salad and a bot­tle of young and fruity red wine. In Le­banon and Jor­dan they will ac­com­pany such food with Arak, and I have to say, Ouzo does go well with this kind of food.

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