Barbara Cartland came up a few times at the Romance Writers of America conference this week, which reminded me of her wonderful cookbook. I posted some scans from it a long time ago, back when I had my first author photo taken (I still had long hair then!). This is some of the funniest food photography I’ve ever seen and I think you all deserve to see it.


I think my favorite author photo ever is this one of Barbara Cartland from the back of the cookbook:

In fact, the only photos to rival it are other photos of Barbara Cartland [google image search: look!!!]. I hope that someday I’m confident enough to have a photo that over-the-top taken of myself.

I bought this book at the library book sale a couple of years ago. It’s called The Romance of Food. It’s one of the best book sale purchases I have ever made.

The inside front cover describes it as “a collection of recipes which will revive even the most jaded lover and put a song in the heart of the most enraptured[…]Also, to show just how irresistible to the eye as well as to the palate are dishes such as Flower of the Heart, Summer Splendor and Fleur de Lis d’Amour, they and many others have been photographed at her own home, one of the most romantic settings in England.”

On page 12, we learn:

“Some of the youngest-looking men on the screen and stage declare they owe their youthful appearance to a large consumption of liver and kidneys. Pope Pius V, famous for his aphrodisiacal dishes, originated a pie in which layers of sliced bull’s testicles alternated with ground lamb kidneys.”

Here are some of the best photos:

“Seafood in a Melon Basket: the hidden wonders of the deep evoke the mystic wonders of Love.”

The caption for that one reads: “An exotic creature from the deep, the color of two red lips, which can invite, provoke, and surrender.”

And this one is just for Susanna Fraser:

“Beef Wellington: England’s greatest General who defeated Napoleon and a plate worthy of his name in the Battle of Love.”

Some other great captions [tw: racism]:

“Noisette of Lamb with Baby Vegetables: What woman does not long to be carried like a lamb in the arms of the man she loves.”

“Gypsy Magic and Imperial Splendor: The gypsies wandering romantically through the Countryside make watercress soup but the Russians with fire and passion prefer Borsch.”

“Duck with Orange and Grand Marnier Sauce: A plate of Chinese magic in whose life the duck has always had a very special place.”

“Normandy Pheasant: The leaves of Autumn fall from the trees but the beautiful exotic pheasant, who comes from China, delights the sportsman and surprisingly the sportswoman.”

“Mocha Chocolate Cake, Black Currant Gateau and Meringues: An English tea; how many men have been beguiled and captivated by a soft voice offering them a meringue?”

Can you describe a plate of food in the style of Barbara Cartland?