Delia Smith’s complete cookery course (Euro-politics included)…

OF ALL the questions surrounding the Europe vote, one that had never occurred to me was this: What does Delia think?

Yet there she was on the front of the Guardian on Saturday in one of the strangest pieces to have appeared in that newspaper. No context or explanation, just a headshot of Delia, an introductory paragraph and the headline: ‘The daily scare tactics beggar belief – they’re not working’.

And off she went, whisking this way and that as she said why she was for staying in Europe, and explaining why those scare tactics weren’t working. “Because at this stage, I’m sure you agree, we voters are just reduced to having a laugh.”

Well, yes. I had wondered if perhaps the Guardian was having laugh, too. Would Jamie Oliver be up next to comment on the migration crisis; was Gordon Ramsay about to start swearing about Jeremy Corbyn’s effectiveness as Labour leader?

Mind you, if they’d like to have Rachel Khoo talking about something, anything – that’s fine by me as I always hang on her every word.

But Delia Smith giving her view on the importance of staying in Europe – “Here’s an argument I made earlier” – was a little odd, wasn’t it?

Delia has done much to improve our lives over the years, so perhaps this was a sort of thank-you. Maybe she knows the newspaper’s editor. Perhaps Delia has time on her hands or had she perhaps been on the wine again?

There was that famous occasion in 2005 when in her role as a Norwich director she wobbled about the Carrow Road ground as she delivered a half-time outburst during a match against Manchester City. People unkindly assumed she’d been at the sherry, although Delia herself later categorically denied having had “too much wine” beforehand.

Every house must have a Delia book. We have two or three, but the only one you need is the Complete Cookery Course. Our copy is dog-eared and part of the index is missing, and it’s our second copy, passed on by my mother as a replacement for an even more ragged specimen. Our daughter bought a pristine copy online for a pound or something before she went off to university.

Delia’s beef in beer is a go-to recipe for me, although I usually tinker a little, throwing in a few black olives and adding a diced red chili if I have one to hand. Shin beef from the butcher on York market, cut into big pieces and then long stewed in the slow cooker; lovely.

I was going to say that the beef in beer was a Remain recipe but actually it’s from Flanders, so there you go. Boeuf Bourguignonne is clearly French and more or less the same, substituting red wine for the beer.

But trying to see this vote through recipes soon becomes confusing. Roast beef is the classic British meal, I guess, but does that one belong to those who want to stay in Europe or those who wish to leave?

This morning’s headlines see reports of open warfare in the Conservative Party, with calls for David Cameron to quit because he has ‘lied’ in the Europe debate. To heckling Tories such as Nadine Dorries, all that can be said is this: have you only just noticed that your leader sometimes stretches the truth a little? And then bakes it in a big lie pie.

As it happens, I am still with Delia and Call Me Dave on remaining in Europe, even though the whole debate has become frustrating in its complete lack of illumination. Does anyone anywhere know more now than when this wearisome and quarrelsome debate had its first stir? And why did we even need a referendum when we have general elections to sort out such matters?

Time to call Delia…

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