“Are you interested in food?” John Lanchester asks.
We are at a table at the Dairy, a highly regarded restaurant in Clapham, south London, which is decorated in bucolic style to match its natural ingredients including vegetables grown on its rooftop.
It is a deceptively simple query, like others he later lobs at me during our meal. Lanchester’s most recent books – his 2012 state-of-London novel Capital, his 2010 account of the financial crisis, Whoops! and his new book, a tongue-in-cheek lexicon called How to Speak Money – relate to finance and the societal distortions it has created. But his first novel, The Debt to Pleasure (1996) was a Nabokovian mystery written in the form of a cookbook by Tarquin Winot, a prickly intellectual snob.My car's engine once burst into flames on the M4 while I was listening to an audio book version (narrated by Richard E. Grant) of John Lanchester's The Debt to Pleasure. I haven't taken it personally however. I am still a fan so I was pleased to see that he eats at the Dairy (see Icons passim) the place in London I took my brother for his first ever tasting menu experience.
It’s properly good here. It’s where René Redzepi [head chef and co-owner of the Copenhagen restaurant Noma] ate when he was in town.”
John: We're lucky.
John: I mean, people should be envying us, you know.
Nick: I envy us.
Nick: I do.
John: Me too.