It is impossible for me to prepare my French onion soup without associating it with four men. The first one was Raúl Guerrero Montemayor my mentor in Mexico City in the late 60s and until he died recently in 2013. The other three are author Len Deighton and actors Christopher Plummer and Michael Caine. In the 60s and until Deighton stopped writing his wonderful spy thrillers and WWII history books.
One of my fave films of all time is Sidney Furie’s 1965 The Ipcress File starring Len Deighton. In Deighton’s very good novel by the same name (far more sophisticated I my books than Ian Fleming’s). In the novel the principal protagonist is not named. For the film Michael Caine was given the name of Harry Palmer.
And why is Christopher Plummer in my above list? He turned down the role for the Ipcress File. The entry of Michael Caine is thus history (and a very good one!).
Back to Raúl Guerrero Montemayor who gave me Deighton’s lovely illustrated (by the author) Cookstrip Cook Book in 1968 as a wedding gift when I married my Canadian Rosemary Elizabeth Healey.
Deighton also wrote a series of cookery books, and wrote and drew a weekly strip cartoon-style illustrated cooking guide in London’s The Observer newspaper — Len Deighton’s Cookstrip. At least one of the strips is pinned up in Deighton’s spy hero’s kitchen in the 1965 film of his novel The IPCRESS File.
In 2014 The Observer announced that Deighton would create 12 new cookstrips to be printed every month in the Observer Food Magazine, starting in January 2015.
To exploit the success of Deighton’s first four “Unnamed Hero” novels, he wrote Len Deighton’s London Dossier (1967), a guide book to Swinging Sixties London with a “secret agent” theme — contributions from other writers are described as “surveillance reports”.
My favourite recipe from the book is his French onion soup. I have been making it to Deighton’s exact specifications for years.
Today Thursday (this blog will be up with tomorrow’s date) I finally modified Deighton’s French onion soup. Instead of onions I used leeks. I must report that the soup was sensational (to use the word so often used by my departed friend Sean Rossiter.)
Originally published at blog.alexwaterhousehayward.com.