22 JANUARY 1972, Page 27

Pamela Vandyke Price

There should be no hesitation about everyone admitting that there are, in each country, persons bred solely for export. This must be so, for how otherwise could any nation survive, clogged at home with the stridently horrific representatives of natives that, once across frontiers, try to roll civilisation back to the primeval ooze period? Personally, I believe that these fearful unpeople were originally some mediaeval defence device (" No enemy will want to invade us if they think we've got more at home like the experimental models," they doubtless said to Aelfrith the Unappetising, making economic use of his by-blows) and the whole thing got out of hand, like plastic and detergent today. Every country exports them: henf aced British females, with Harvey Nichols voices, droopy-drawered pseudo-sahibs, Americans twanging with non-culture, Germans telling everyone how right they are and how wrong the world, Iberians behaving like filthy postcard vendors masquerading as spies and Scandinavians vice versa, Mittel-Europeans battering at everyone with obscure and unrequired information. Even those champion chauvinists, the French, eschew any place ' abroad ' where they see their countrymen gathered together, knowing that they risk contact with unprecedently unhealthy looking creatures, pockmarked, dandruffy, with concomitant sinister odours, expatiating on the intimacies of their physical ill-being.

These are the persons who mislead would-be welcoming hoteliers and restaurateurs into degrading their catering, believing that what these unpeople want is what the real travellers require. In former times one travelled either from necessity—flying from hordes, smuggling plans of fort, carving cities out of desert—which was scarcely conducive to gastronomy; or one travelled because one wanted to learn something from other countries—when the experience of strange food and drink was part of the civilising process. People who now go wailing round the beauties and the wonders of the world demanding cups of tea and fish and chips should be restrained in three-piece comfort, chained before the telly (they could see the world without stirring) and fed on sliced bread, instant mash, processed cheese, broiler chicken and aqueous greens. Then I should not require a fourteen language translation of such phrases as "With plenty of oil," "Salad with onions," "I like garlic/squid/goat cheese/snails/roast kid/ and any single creature or substance that the locals have found palatable, including songbirds."

Why we shudder as a nation away from "all that oil" I can't understand. Do fish and chip consumers suppose that this dish grows on a tree remote from tainting contact with anything oleaginous? One of the world's most cherished baby foods has influenced the olive oil production of Spain—unlubricated babies are uncomfortable. Garlic, which is historically medicinal, taken moderately in conjunction with some oil in the British diet, might do much to improve the tissue paper texture of the English complexion' and, plus some bread that is bread, would probably stop the British being as preoccupied with constipation as the French are with

crises de foie.

Nor can I understand the British recoil from the goat, source of some of the best cheeses for wine in the world, and delicious to eat. I suspect that thousands of people have eaten it without knowing" We got quite tired of all that veal/braised chicken/moussaka/meat balls, etc." and I only wish it gave them the sort of gastronomic malaise that the usual foreign version of 'international cuisine' gives me.

A very simple salad which the civilised family might like combines cheese and greenery, in what one might describe as an amiably peasant way, as compared with the delicacy of the Salade de Gruyere for which Elizabeth David gives the recipe and which I have previously quoted. For a Cyprus salad, you combine lettuce, a little chopped celery and onion, parsley (a coarser variety than the British type, and I would use chervil if I could get it), tomatoes, turned in a dressing that I would make of five to one olive oil and wine vinegar. If you are hesitant about the oil for economic reasons (this is the bill-bound season), blend some olive oil with arachide—the expense will be cut down and the olive flavour does come through. Top with a few black olives and some crumbled cheese; in Cyprus, they use fetta, the stark white, friable cheese made (wait for it) from the milk of the lady sheep, with a little lady goat milk too. If you are not near any Greek or Cypriot food stores, I suggest this is an admirable way of using up those ends of the small rolls of French goat cheese. Or you can substitute Demisel or Boursin, the latter preferably the variety with herbs and garlic.

You'll live to enjoy it again.