As well as being one of horror cinema’s most beloved stars, Vincent Price was also a noted gourmet chef, a passion which led to an unlikely British Thames Television cookery show on ITV and a spin-off cook book.
His dabblings in the world of food began in 1965 with the publication of the book A Treasury of Great Recipes, followed up by the slightly more threatening sounding Come into the Kitchen in 1969. He had also appeared as a popular guest on chat shows in America throughout the 1960s and occasionally demonstrated his cooking skills, most notoriously on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson where he cooked a fish in a dishwasher.
By 1971, Thames Television was happy enough with Vincent’s culinary talents to afford him a half-hour show for a six week run, where he explored the food of different nations.
The accompanying book to the series shared the same name, Cooking Price-Wise and for the princely sum of 30p, the world of cookery was open to all.
From the back cover:
“Travel round the world with Vincent Price – using your cooker instead of a jetplane…
Here he invites you to share with him the experiences of international cuisine – such delicacies as the Tajine from Morocco, the American Ice Box Cake, or the Fish Fillets Noord Zee… And every recipe can be made easily with ingredients that are available from your local shops or supermarket. So begin cooking… with Vincent Price.
The book is now a startling reminder of how eating food which originated in a foreign country was an outlandish concept in early 70s Britain. Vincent explains his reasons for writing the book in his introduction:
“Hello, I’m Vincent Price. There are three things which really turn me on, as the current saying goes, one is work – I’m never really happy when I’m not working, another is art and the third is food. This book is the follow-up to the television series I made recently, which was all about food. I didn’t invent the recipes in the book, or in the series. I collected them…
“People always seem afraid of food from other countries – they’ll eat spaghetti, for instance, if it comes out of a tin, chopped up short and smothered in tomato sauce, but the real thing, no matter how available it is, is quite beyond them. Then, of course, you get the folk who think that foreign food is full of things that you can only get on special order from Harrod’s and I must admit that the way some cookery books are written, you’d think that was so. So, I was glad to accept the challenge when the producers of the series “Cooking Price-Wise” asked me to do the shows. The one condition was that all the ingredients in all the recipes must be readily available in any group of food shops of supermarket.
“We spent hours arguing as to whether a particular item was available in the local shops – in fact, one of the producers even rang up a Bolton supermarket to ask whether they stocked tins of bean-shoots. They did. We also found that soy sauce was available in Oban, Scotland.
“I must warn you, though, that some of the recipes come from a rather far-away place called Britain! Now, the people of this country have rather strange eating habits. Instead of washing their hands very thoroughly and eating with their clean fingers, they use what they call “Knives and Forks” – which they get from a drawer where they’ve been lying collecting dust for up to several days since being washed – these implements are not washed again before they’re used! However, I assure the squeamish among you that I have only chosen the cleanest recipes from this unfortunate land…”
Apart from the above (and possibly a recipe for Chicken Solange) the recipes are not horror themed and seem rather quaint as they describe the use of what are now common-place ingredients. This unique paperback cook book can still be found on internet auction sites from time-to-time and via Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com
Daz Lawrence, MOVIES & MANIA
Vincent sings of pork chops:
Related: The Dark Shadows Cookbook