Delia's new show started on BBC2 tonight and whilst she's been off our screens (apart from the regular as clockwork repeats) she's undergone a transformation. Not only is she now famous for the "let's be having you" speech when her beloved Norwich weren't getting the necessary support from the canary clad fans - and we were treated to that again on tonight's programme - but in the words of my food hero Nigel Slater we now have "permission from the head mistress" to cheat. It's not all about stripping the shelves bare of cranberries and recommending certain frying pans but frozen mash potatoes! And I didn't know such a thing existed. She's tossed the scrubber, the peeler, the ricer and instead it's a few anemic discs of Aunt Bessie's from the freezer topping the shepherds' pie, the fish pie and in the watercress soup. And if she is to be believed also hidden in a chocolate cake she foisted upon Nigel. He said it was very moist!
I guess I was only surprised at Delia's new incarnation as I recall her little paperback from 1971 (and no before you ask, I got my copy second hand - I hadn't yet developed my obsession with cookbooks then. In fact I wasn't reading much more than a Ladybird book or the odd Cat in the Hat if I was reading at all) My understanding was that when she became the doyenne of school ma'mish cooking on television she disassociated herself from this little tome and extinguished it from her bibliographies. Though this was before the heady days of Aunt Bessie's and she had to recommend using instant mash instead. And her original cheat's watercress soup she recommend starting with a can of Cottage Potato soup, no I am not entirely sure what a cottage potato is either, and whizzing up with some fresh watercress and a little double cream. Though this is a vast improvement on the leek and potato soup as she starts with a packet of Leek soup and another can of Cottage Potato, sprinkling them with freeze dried chives. It's not true for all the recipes but the theme seems to be buy some food, juzz it up slightly and then serve to your unsuspecting guests moping your fevered brow due to all your imagined exertions.
But apparently now it's cool to admit that your life is way too full and exciting to slave over a hot stove and you can admit to your labour saving ploys. Delia's new much glossier book is just empowering us to cheat and be proud. So that's telling me then, though maybe if truly I embrace the frozen mash potato I would have more time to blog! And that would be good indeed!