Sir Winston Churchill was a gentleman hidebound to traditions. As the Blitz raged he insisted on Champagne Pol Roger and Romeo y Julieta cigars. While testing weaponry he dressed in three piece suits from Henry Poole on Savile Row. When required to wear an oxygen mask during wartime airplane journeys, he had one specially adapted so he could smoke throughout the flight.
Sir Winston was francophone and loved to dine classic French. (Conversely he despised sauerkraut, naturally, plus lemon curd and black pudding.) Meals would start with a consommé. Fromage would be purchased from Paxton & Whitfield, who, like Parsons Nose, deliver free in the London area. As the great man once said: “It is well to remember that the stomach governs the world.”
Even during wartime Churchill ate well thanks to access to milk, eggs and vegetables from his Chartwell estate. Perhaps too well. When shown a platter of rationed food enjoyed by the everyday Briton, Churchill claimed it wasn’t “a bad meal.” Then was shocked that the plate encompassed not the basic ration per day, but for an entire week. It included 114 grams of ham plus two chops. No more.
We’re familiar with Churchill’s culinary mores thanks his longtime chef Georgina Landemare. In 1909 she married the renowned French chef of the London Ritz, Paul Landemare. She later peppered her solidly British creations with Gallic flair. (For all his continental flair, tinned mandarin slices were one of Churchill’s loves.)
The Imperial War Museum has published Landemare's 250 top recipes from both Chartwell and No.10 (Churchill's Cookbook, £9.99). Where a modern cookbook might include a single dessert section, Landemare’s included specific sections on Puddings, Pastry, Biscuits and Cakes. Coq au Vin and Maryland chicken were other Churchill favourites. We can be sure that a Label Anglais foul would meet his approval for both dishes.
Only the brave would match the bibulous PM in the drinking stakes. One saner parliamentarian, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rab Butler, sank from the challenge in style. During brandy fuelled evenings, Butler kept sober enough to run the nation’s finances by decanting the digestif into his shoe. When he squelched back to No.11 is unrecorded.