Allan Warren, who was brought up by his mother in post-war London, was a member of Terry’s Juveniles, a stage school based in the Drury Lane Theatre and which launched the careers of, among others, the musical comedy star, Jessie Matthews, Dorothy Squires and Melvyn Hayes.
Warren began taking photos while he was acting in Alan Bennett’s play Forty Years On with John Gielgud in the West End at the Apollo Theatre. He bought a second-hand camera and began to take photographs of the other performers in the play. He eventually became a full-time photographer and his career started in 1969 when his friend Mickey Deans, formerly a manager of the trendy New York discotheque ‘Arthur’, asked him to cover his wedding to Judy Garland in London.
In 1975 he published Nobs & Nosh – Eating with the Beautiful People featuring his photographs of celebrities and aristocrats accompanied with recipes and their musings about their relationship with food. Unsurprisingly many of the beautiful people admitted to not eating much at all and often even seemed rather bored with the activity.
“I eat health food – natural, untampered food as God made it although I would not object to eating animal protein if the cattle weren’t sicker than people from being filled with miracle drugs.”
“Different nationalities have different etiquettes which indicate certain traits about their individuality. For instance, haven’t you ever seen an Italian relish a beefsteak as if he were convinced that it was a relative – or an American tackle fish and chips in a newspaper as if it were a bargain from Macey’s basement? And if you want to see how bourgeois a Frenchman can really be, put a full plate of spaghetti in front of him!”
A member of the Partridge Family!
“Dancers have to worry about their diet – we should eat the minimum that will propel us to the next meal without swelling our stomachs. Mostly, I eat meat soup, yoghurt and drink lots of tea!”
“The advantage of living in London is the caterers: we have a wonderful team of coloured gentlemen, headed by Mr Trimble, who organise everything which means you don’t have to bother – until the bill comes in!”
Recipe for Roast Shoulder of Lamb with Herbs and Red Wine
Take a large shoulder of lamb out of the deep freeze. Then, at about 7.30pm. (with rubber gloves on, otherwise the smell hangs for weeks on the hands), sliver the garlic, make cuts in the fat and meat and insert the garlic. On top of that the wild herbs. Wrap in tin foil, pop in over at gas mark 4; and hour should do. Don’t forget to baste now and then and add a little red wine. After the hour take off tin foil, and let the joint continue roasting at mark 5 for a further half hour.
During this time, open a good tin of crab soup, and mix with gallons of fresh cream. Then serve up and, like a miracle as your guests finish the soup, dishes are almost licked clean, I might add. The lamb is ready, so out comes the red wine, lamb, roast potatoes and whatever.
I’ve never known anyone not ask for more – either all my friends are gourmet masochists, or it must be good. I thinks it’s the easiest dinner to make.
“Some years ago I was engaged to Gig Young [an actor who won an Academy Award for his performance as a slimy dance-marathon emcee in the 1969 film They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?] and he decided to invite some very proper relatives for dinner to introduce me. I got myself up looking like sweet sixteen, with a fluffy dirndl dress and little apron, and set about making something very simple – a tuna fish casserole – its almost a joke dish because you can’t go wrong with it. Needless to say, I was nervous, and having prepared the casserole I went to look after the relatives, feeling delicious. Later, on going out to the kitchen, I saw what must have looked like a Groucho Marx movie – the casserole had risen so tremendously that it was practically coming out of the oven – I had put baking powder in the casserole instead of flour! Immediately, I went upstairs and changed into a black, very sexy dress with a single strand of pearls, had four stiff martinis, and went out to dinner!
“We never did get married.”
“One of the nicest stories I know about food was told be Noel Coward. It happened in a very chic Chinese restaurant where the waiters could say ‘fried rice’ instead of ‘flied lice’! The table was packed with celebrities, and one of the guests had brought a friend – a young cockney lad from the East End. When the waiter brought the finger bowls with the slice of lemon and warm water, the boy thought it was lemon soup and started sipping it. Everybody stared and all conversation ceased. But Noel with his remarkable aplomb, picked up his spoon good a couple of sips from his finger bowl, looked around the room and exclaimed ‘Delicious’.”
“The romance of food is of paramount importance. My wife and I became engaged twenty years ago in a little candlelit restaurant in Soho. After all these years we still go once every week. She goes on Wednesdays and I go on Fridays.”
Fettuccini for Four
Cook the fettuccini until aldente – not soft – and then drain well.
Add: 1 cup of thick cream, 3 tablespoons of butter, 3/4 cup of Parmesan cheese.
Mix carefully and slowly, so as not to break the fettuccini. Serve immediately.
“Once, when I had hepatitis, Cary Grant came to visit me with a bunch of daffodils that matched the colour of my face. My housekeeper was beside herself with delight at the arrival of our guest and said she would prepare a tray of drinks. Meanwhile, Cary gave me a severe talking to about my illness and said that all the type of complaints are really self-induced. At that he started to demonstrate his exercises, including standing on his head. At that moment, in walked to housekeeper with the tray and all my best glasses, to be confronted with Cary’s legs sticking up in the air at the foot of my bed. She dropped the lot!”
“Now that I have given up the Great American Cheeseburger, I just eat vegetables, salads and nuts – and noting could be easier to fix than nuts!”
“Put pumpkin seeds, blanched almonds, a little garlic and tomato into a whirring blender. Then, heat the mixture and use as a sauce on cauliflower or broccoli.”
“I’m mad about food and that is to say that I can never spend more than four hours on a diet!”
“Take two oxtails and put into a frying pan with butter. Fry until brown, then place them in a dish with two cups of lentils. Add one wine glass of sherry and two packets of onion soup (the powdered version by Liptons). Then put into oven…and forget it.”
“Take a one pound packet of noodles and cook according to the directions. Take three packets of frozen chopped spinach and cook these according to the directions. Drain the noodles and spinach then add 1/4 cup of butter, a teaspoonful of salt, a 1/4 teaspoonful of pepper, a dash of nutmeg, and some buttered breadcrumbs which have been toasted in the oven until brown, a 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese. Mix all these together, leaving the breadcrumbs on top.”
“‘Feed me with food convenient for me’ it says in the Book of Proverbs, and I don’t much like the importance of meal-times or the meal as a social occasion. I tend to ply down the importance of food, sometimes even to pretend that it doesn’t matter. But I do eat every day.”
“I eat anything whatsoever apart from tripe and raw oysters.”
“I am very fond of a good fish dish – so were two Americans for whom I ordered luncheon at a famous grill recently. The wife was very careful of her throat as she was an ardent and amateur singer.
“The husband was most anxious to protect his wife’s voice. The tempting dish of Whitebait arrived as ordered, but before he would allow her to devour these pretty little fishes, the husband said to me.
“‘Could i ask the waiter to take away these Whitebait and bring them back again for my wife off the bone?'”
Now that nutrition has become an adjunct of technology rather than biology, we are forced to recourse to our instincts, ways and means of our ancestors just as surely as if our lives depended on it. Society can process us to become the equivalent of automated rats in a laboratory cage but once it starts processing our food, then this way, quite literally, madness lies.
“At extremely grand dinner parties I have to guard my vowels.”
“Whenever I get back to England I go head-first into a haddock!”