Are you a big fan of film/tv food, John Cleese & Fawlty Towers? Well then you’ve come to the right place! I first saw Fawlty Towers when I was a teenager and always found it funny but I now appreciate their puns more than ever. And not just Fawlty Towers of course, every Monty Python movie still brings a smile to my face thanks to their batshit crazy storylines, characters and one-liners. But apart from some good craic (Oops, there’s a bit of Irish slang stuck in my head), I also draw a lot of inspiration from these series and movies! The Monty Python series, A Fish Called Wanda, Fawlty Towers are all excellent sources for recipes, but one of the best scenes from Fawlty Towers has to be this one:
“Mr. Hamilton: Would you make me a Waldorf Salad?
Basil: [having never heard of it] oh.. a Wal..?
Mr. Hamilton: Waldorf Salad.
Basil: Oh,.. I think we’re just out of Waldorfs..”
I must’ve seen this scene dozens of times by now and I still have to giggle each time I hear John Cleese say his line while looking as puzzled and clueless as ever. Unfortunately there aren’t any clips available of this scene on Youtube but you can always just buy the DVDs or rent them online (Waldorf Salad is featured in Season 2)! Although the original Waldorf Salad (apples, celery, salad, mayonnaise) is slightly different than what you see in Fawlty Towers, I’ve decided to follow the show’s recipe and add walnuts as well.
Falwty Towers was a BBC sitcom consisting of 2 series, 12 episodes in total, that aired from 1975 until 1979. It was written by John Cleese & his wife (who plays Polly on the show), and is set in Fawlty Towers, a hotel in the seaside town of Torquay on the ‘English Riviera’. At the front desk of the hotel we have the rude and tense owner Basil Fawlty (John Cleese) and his bossy yet energetic wife Sybil (Prunella Scales), helped by their totally hopeless Spanish waiter Manuel (Andrew Sachs) and the charmingly chambermaid/waitress Polly (Connie Booth) who is the voice of reason when things go belly up as accidents, mistakes, confusion and frustration are never far away at Fawlty Towers.
Cleese based Basil Fawlty on a real person, Donald Sinclair, whom he met in 1970 while the Monty Python team were staying at the Gleneagles Hotel in Torquay. Cleese was inspired by Sinclair’s mantra, “I could run this hotel just fine, if it weren’t for the guests.” He later described Sinclair as “the most wonderfully rude man I have ever met”.
In one of the episodes in Fawlty Towers an American couple, the Hamiltons, arrives a bit later than expected and when they want to order some dinner, Basil tells them the chef stops at 9 and since they arrived after 9, it simply would no longer be possible. The man then pays Basil to keep the kitchen open, but the chef had already made other plans and though he initially offers to stay, Basil ends up deciding to take over the kitchen himself.
First, the Hamiltons order a drink that Basil has never heard of and then they continue by ordering 2 Waldorf salads followed by 2 rare steaks, though Waldorf Salad isn’t on the menu. Basil once again is baffled by the order and pretends it’s the chef who doesn’t know what it is. Mr. Hamilton is getting increasingly frustrated and angry with Basil, who keeps forgetting the ingredients (according to the Hamiltons: salad, celery, apples, walnuts, and grapes, topped with mayonnaise). Sybil finally comes to the rescue but things continue to go downhill for poor aul’ Basil. If you want to know how the episode ends, you’ll simply have to get your hands on the DVDs or rent it online.
Serves: 2 people
- 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise (based on eggs, not lemon)
- 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
- 1 celery stalk
- 1 large sweet apple
- 50g walnuts
- 100g blue grapes
- 50-60g romain lettuce
Optional: raisins, chicken or turkey
If you’d like to make this as a lunch rather than a starter, add another apple and celery stalk, go for 100g of grapes, 100g lettuce and 75g of walnuts. Double the amount of mayonnaise and lemon juice and you’ll be good to go.
Making this recipe is ridiculously easy! Slice the grapes up in half and do the same with the walnuts. Mix the mayonnaise with the lemon juice to make it more liquid.
Wash the celery stalk(s) and make sure there isn’t any sand left. Cut the white part at the bottom of the celery and remove it. Slice the remaining part up in half-moon slices (about half a cm) until you get to the joint, where the celery bottom meets the leafy part. We don’t need the top part so you can throw everything above the joint away.
Last but not least peel the apples, remove the core and slice the remaining pieces up in chunks. By slicing the apples up lastly, you’ll avoid them turning brown before you sit down to eat your lunch. You can also simply add a few drops of lemon juice on top of the slices to avoid this, but be careful not to add too much as you already have a bit of a lemon taste from the mayonnaise that we mixed with the lemon juice.
All that’s left now is to throw it all together and drizzle the mayonnaise on top!