The Italian Restaurateur Antonio Carluccio ia campaigning to have “mediterranean cuisine” given World Heritage status by UNESCO. Good luck to him. In doing so he argues that a love of food is part of the Italian soul whereas the English don’t care a fig about food and never have done. In throwing scorn on the English he trots out the old saw that when Elizabeth David published her book “Italian Food” in 1954 you could only get olive oil in England by going to the chemist, where it was sold as a treatment for ear-ache. This was a good joke when it was first made, but it has no basis in fact. A glance at cookery books from Victorian times onwards (and probably before) shows that olive oil was used extensively, and it was sold in every grocery shop. Of course, in 1954 rationing was only just coming to an end after a war which, I believe, involved Italy to some extent, and supplies of many basis products were still difficult to obtain. But the notion that Elizabeth David introduced olive oil to British cooks is complete nonsense.