Vincent Price was too gentle a soul to be totally convincing as a horror star. The tall, plummy-voiced actor earned his living playing sinister roles—that much is well established. What is sometimes overlooked is that this purveyor of goose pimples was also gourmet chef and heir to a candy fortune. I’m tickled to imagine him coming home from a long day of terrorizing virginal heroines, hanging up his cape and slouch hat, and alighting on the kitchen to whip up a plate of Duck a l’Orange.
I grew up admiring this flamboyant thespian—House on Haunted Hill and The Abominable Dr. Phibes are two favorites—so you can imagine my delight when I discovered a celebrity cookbook called Cooking Price-Wise. It is not the best known of Price’s forays into the genre (that would be A Treasury of Great Recipes—a magisterial tome co-authored by his wife, Mary), but it’s the only one based on a TV show—the 1971 British series produced by Thames Television. The show hasn’t been seen since its original run of six episodes, but copies of the book are still floating around, long out of print and commanding high prices from online vendors. When my wife Emily and I found one for $1.00, we took the discovery to be more than a stroke of luck—we considered it a call to action.
Given the book’s scarcity and the juiciness of its conception, we decided to share our little find with the rest of the world. Hence, this blog. Every week, we will try our hand at one of the recipes and write about the experience. I’m an inveterate movie buff, and Emily is a recovering picky eater, so we are well suited to the task. We may overdo the dolmades. We may bungle the beef burgundy. But, as the saying goes, the joy is in the journey.
The unifying theme of the book is that you can eat exotic meals without having to shop for ingredients beyond your local supermarket. This proves, to me at least, that although his palate was as rarified as his performance style, Price was no elitist when it came to eating well. It is in that spirit that we invite you to join us in this culinary adventure, our year of cooking Price-wise. Bon appetit!