Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Tarantino's Lost London Film and the First Italian Restaurant

This isn't London has been inundated by two emails from Fizzwhizz and CS. Here they are ...

Four killings and a film deal
Quentin Tarantino's most recent films were originally to be called Kilburn 1 and Kilburn 2, writes Fizzwhizz. They were to be set in the eponymous north London suburb and featured an angry housewife's attempts to get revenge on the man who sold her a jar of gefilte fish so dodgy that it gave her husband a bad stomach upset and left him unable to attend his own daughter's wedding. The Lucy Liu character was originally to have been a comedy Indian grandmother played by Meera Syal; Bill was to have been a self-conscious upper-class fop played by Hugh Grant.

However it was decided to move the setting to America and increase the martial-arts content of the movie after studio executives became concerned that a gentle ensemble comedy would not afford sufficient opportunities for a video-game follow-up.

Taxloss responds: I heard a similar rumour. Apparently the posters were to be based on the traffic markings on West End Lane, an influence that can still be seen in the posters.

“Of course, this is nothing like the food we had at the Medicis”
The first Italian restaurant in London opened almost 300 years before the creation of the Italian state, in 1582, writes SC. Its proprietor was one Carlo Ghiradino, who had left his mother’s house at the tender age of 41 to bring the secrets of her kitchen to a wider audience.

He set up shop on Dogspit Lane, in the heart of the capital’s epicurean district. He could not forget home entirely, though, and honoured the tiny city-state from which he came – Tremestino (turn left at Piedmont and please drive carefully) – by covering his wooden tables with its distinctive red-and-white checked flag.

Before long, Carlo was the toast of Elizabethan London and his humble hostelry echoed to the sounds of fashionable diners exclaiming: “I remember this place when it was actually run by Italians” and “Of course, your actual Tuscan fisherman will eat something entirely different”. Soon, Ghiradino was able to enhance his décor with miniatures in oils depicting himself welcoming celebrities of the day such as Sir Walter Raleigh, Kit Marlowe and, on one memorable occasion, Queen Elizabeth herself. It was reported that she did not like the gnocchi.

Ghiradino was truly the city’s first celebrity chef, but his fame did not last. After being falsely accused of being a Venetian spy – a rumour first spread by a jealous member of the Worshipful Company of Gammon Fashioners – he was imprisoned in the tower. On 17 April 1587, he was doused in boiling olive oil and flash-fried with garlic before an audience of jeering Londoners. His last, agonised, words were: “No, you must tear the basil.”

Thanks, guys!

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