This is a collection of the food writing of the late and great Michael Bateman who has been recognised as the first of the modern investigative food journalists.
Michael started writing in the 1960s when food wasn’t the trendy subject it is today. There was little interest in the media apart from the occasional fright from contaminated corned beef. It’s perhaps an illustration of the lack of interest in food at that time that it was the banal corned beef that caused the scare rather than soft French Cheese or lobster.
Michael Bateman was Food Editor of the Independent on Sunday from its launch in 1989 till his untimely death in 2006, although he worked for lots of publications throughout his long and illustrious career including the Shields Gazette, Daily Herald, Daily Mail and many others. His books include Cooking People (no, it’s not about cannibalism, it’s a book of interviews with prominent figures from the world of food), and Good Enough to Eat, a study of food safety and nutrition which was shortlisted for the prestigious Andre Simon Award.
A Delicious Way to Earn a Living is a marvellous book of food writing from this man who was so very popular and respected. He was popular because he was good and he was good because he was writing about a subject for which he had a passion. Michael was cooking curry before it was Britain’s favourite food, and Paella before most people had even heard of it.
The articles are informative, accessible and amusing. He discusses the new (at that time) interest in vegetarianism. “Now, you wouldn’t call Ted Ray or Leo Tolstoy cranks would you? Or Pete Murray and Mahatma Gandhi. Or John Peel and Buddha…..?” That article is a witty testament to the passage of time, but names that are current are also represented. Sophie Grigson has an item all to herself and she obviously charmed Michael, who remarks upon her punkish hair and junk (I wouldn’t call them junk) earrings.
A Delicious Way to Earn a Living will introduce a new audience to the fine and amusing writing of the late Michael Bateman and will allow his faithful followers another chance to dip into this amazing treasury. Yet another quality volume from Grub Street.
A Delicious Way to Earn a Living
Author: Michael Bateman
Published by: Grub Street
Food journalism review by Chrissie Walker © 2018