A book planning to reveal the secrets of Number 10’s kitchen under Mrs Thatcher was axed after the former prime minister expressed concerns that such a book would breach her privacy, it emerged recently. The book, which promised to expose Mrs Thatcher’s favourite recipes (she was said to have had a penchant for gooseberry souffle and would only serve British cheese), was proposed by Sherry Warner, a senior cook at Downing Street in the Thatcher years. Thatcher was apparently ‘very upset, feeling that the privacy of occasion in No 10 had been invaded.’
It is a shame that Mrs Thatcher was so coy about her cuisine, for the British public goes bananas for kitchen secrets. Who can forget the exposure of Buckingham Palace’s State Secret in 2003: the Queen keeps her cereal in tupperware boxes? The Daily Mirror (the publication responsible for the revelation) devoted 15 pages to the scoop, having sent an undercover footman in to the Palace to work for Her Majesty. Needless to say, he had signed all kinds of non-disclosure agreements before taking up his post and the only nugget of information that wouldn’t breach the contracts was to do with the Queen’s collection of tupperware. Oh, and that Her Majesty likes cornflakes or porridge for breakfast.
In 2013, self-proclaimed domestic goddess Nigella Lawson was in the headlines when her former personal assistant revealed that Lawson always carries a tube of English mustard in her handbag. Last year, we were subjected to a debate on the merits of shop-bought mayonnaise, following Miriam Clegg’s announcement that Samantha Cameron had served roast chicken with – wait for it – Hellmann’s mayo. Shock! Horror! The prime minister’s wife didn’t make her own mayonnaise! ‘Now that I’ve spent years observing how grand people live, I’ve learned that the ultimate grand person’s food, found on all the most upper-class tables, is not caviar, truffles, virgin olive oil or fancy cheese. No, it is… Hellmann’s mayonnaise,’ wrote Clegg in her cookbook Made in Spain.
Things get really weird, though, in the kitchens of Tinseltown. Supermodel Naomi Campbell is said never to leave the house without a bottle of Jamaican hot sauce. Fellow model Heidi Klum told the Sunday Times Magazine, ‘If I have appointments all day, I take a container of salad with me for lunch. I love fennel, celery and garlic… I eat healthily and that’s trickled down to my children. They’re sophisticated little eaters. They love sushi, particularly yellowtail with jalapeño. Their friends come over and ask for macaroni cheese, but I don’t have that in the pantry.’
Why are we so keen to know what people are eating? Because what someone eats can be far more revealing than what they say or how they dress. Just remind me not to stop by at the Klums’ for tea.