WHEN YOU’RE GETTING OLD...
(You may think you’re wiser… and it can be good fun)
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.