Eyre, David (1 of 10). Food: From Source to Salespoint

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  • Subjects

    Chefs; Restaurateurs; European cuisine

  • Recording date

    2011-03-18, 2011-03-30, 2011-06-21, 2011-09-28

  • Recording locations

    British Library, London

  • Interviewees

    Eyre, David, 1961- (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Dillon, Niamh (speaker, female)

  • Abstract

    Part 1: David Eyre [DE] – mentions full name. Born in Mozambique in 1961. Father born in Stepney in 1921, grandfather a blacksmith – briefly mentions his father’s life in London. Talks about his father’s service in the tank regiment in World War II – [00:02:20] explains his father’s decision to work overseas: first for Booker’s in British Guiana on a sugar plantation (now Guyana) then afterwards in Mozambique. [00:03:50] Explains that his mother was born in British Guiana – maternal grandmother was born in Guiana, maternal grandfather was born in Norfolk – his hobbies and interests. [00:06:18] Explains how his parents’ met in Guiana – their 12 year age difference. [00:08:01] His mother’s journey from Guiana to Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) – their marriage in Salisbury (now Harare) Cathedral – briefly describes the landscape around the sugar plantation – mentions the difficulties faced by his mother in this new environment. [00:10:38] DE is the youngest of three children. Talks about his father’s decision to move overseas for work: opportunities available in the colonies. The family’s decision to leave after Mozambique achieved independence from Portugal in 1975– they then moved to Malawi and his father worked for Lonrho. [00:15:06] DE reflects on his childhood in Mozambique. Talks about the lack of educational opportunities in Mozambique and why they went to boarding school in Rhodesia; [00:18:35] talks about his early education in Rhodesia – talks about his prep school, The Eagle School, which later closed because of the civil war. [00:21:43] Talks about his secondary school, Peterhouse. Racism at the school and in the country. DE then moved to Waterford school in Swaziland – talks about the mix of backgrounds at the school (Nelson Mandela’s daughters attended) describes the school. [00:28:19] DE’s early ambitions to be an engineer: his decision to go to university in England – explains why he didn’t like it. [00:32:17] Talks about his decision not to pursue a career as an engineer – his parents’ having to leave Africa and come to England. [00:35:36] Discusses being a ‘foreigner’ in Mozambique and Malawi and yet feeling more of a foreigner when he moved to England – attitudes towards people from Southern Africa when he first moved to England. [00:39:14] DE started cooking first when he went to university. DE talks about his mother’s culinary background in Guiana – Sunday lunches at home in Malawi. His mother’s cookbooks [00:44:58] Attitudes towards food amongst the Europeans on the sugar plantation. DE father’s concern for the African labourers on the sugar plantation. [00:47:18] DE father rearing pigs and vegetables on the plantation – how the Eyre family made sausages and the Portuguese workers made chorizo. [00:49:51] The scarcity of packed goods in Mozambique. DE enjoyment of home-cooked food after poor boarding school meals. DE making peanut brittle and coconut ice as a child. [00:52:23] DE describes his father’s background in East London – paternal family origins in Cornwall as blacksmiths/enginesmiths in the mines. Origin of the name Eyre. Talks about his paternal grandmother. [00:56:02] His father’s upbringing in London – his father’s siblings: his sister Betty. Paternal grandfather character. DE father’s character: his mischievous nature, running errands for neighbours as a child – story about his scraps. [01:00:15] DE father’s service in the 8th Army in North Africa. DE talks about father’s siblings: he was one of four children. Mentions his father’s politics – his view of England in the 1960s and 1970s. His ability to tell a good story. [01:04:37] DE interest in his family history – persuading his father to write about his experiences. [01:07:54] Describes in detail his father’s experiences during World War II: story about his escape from the Germans in North Africa – story about his escape from the Germans in Italy. [01:15:49] DE’s father’s experience in Dachau in 1944 – driving across Germany in an abandoned Mercedes. His return to London after the War. His aversion to all things German. [01:20:55] His father’s desire to leave England. His father’s feelings about identity: his close affinity to Africa. [01:23:35] DE describes returning to the sugar plantation in Mozambique in 2000 as part of a Radio 4 programme, ‘Excess Baggage’. [01:28:45] Story about his father quelling a labour riot in Mozambique. DE describes his father’s character and values. [01:33:54] DE describes his close relationship with his father, DE learning to drive as a child. [01:33:56] His parents’ names: Bill and Anne née Minns. Describes his father’s appearance, his preference for safari suits. His parents’ happy marriage. Story about his aunt Kathleen dying from peritonitis in childhood. [01:41:12] Attitudes towards alcohol and drunkenness in Guiana and Mozambique - DE attitude towards drinking. [01:45:03] Describes the attitudes to drinking on the sugar plantation: drinks consumed. [01:49:01] Refrigeration on the plantation: how food was conserved and cooked: ingredients available for cooking. Insects and illnesses: treatments for malaria, DE suffering from a ‘touch of fever’. [01:51:04] DE describes the physical environment of the sugar plantation: describes his childhood home, how the furniture was all hand-made on the plantation: the Sena Sugar Estates in Mozambique, continues to describe the house. [01:57:05] Track 1 [cont. from 01:57:05] DE describes other buildings on the Luabo estate: art deco office block, transportation to and from the estate. [01:59:19] Mentions the general manager’s house, DE is still in contact with the family in London. Other accommodation on the estate: trades and occupations on the estate. Paddle-steamers used on the estate. [02:03:12] DE explains how all the machinery used on the estate was shipped from Glasgow, communications at the time. DE talks about the history of the estate: the founder J.P. Hornung and how quickly it collapsed after independence in Mozambique in 1975 (check year). [02:07:34] Describes climate on the estate. His father’s role as plantation manager; structure of employment on the estate – mentions the estate in Malawi and his father’s role (he harvested 1 million tones of sugar cane in a year). DE talks about the sugar harvest [02:12:00] the arduous nature of harvesting sugar cane. The mono-culture: fertilisers and nitrates used on the crops. [02:16:14] Sugar export to Europe –most for domestic consumption, a little was grown for horse-feed: some for champagne fermentation. [02:19:17] Describes the social structure on the estate in Malawi and Mozambique (more racially stratified in Mozambique) DE love of Portuguese cooking developed from this period. [02:21:47] DE discusses racial stratification in Mozambique – his father’s character. DE discusses his feelings/reactions to growing up in this society – DE mother encouraging the wives of the domestic servants to grow cotton as cash crop [02:26:18] his mother’s relationship with the local community. Talks about their domestic servants: [02:29:00] briefly describes the origin of their names. [02:32:18] Describes their butler/houseboy Mahtoh – mentions family holidays in South Africa – how local people walked everywhere – their concept of distance and time. [02:35:51] Mentions Joe the laundry man – describes their servants in Malawi: (DE loves African music) the gardeners singing while working in the garden. [02:39:15] Talks about his father’s ‘litter-bearers’: transportation on the estate, story about DE father and one of the bearers racing on the estate. [02:43:40] High level of African education in Malawi – DE talks about his feelings about segregation. [02:46:01] The contrast when he went to school in Swaziland which was not segregated: mixed relationships were common. [02:47:58] his feelings about segregation particularly in Rhodesia – DE use of language as a child (Portuguese, Africa and English). [02:50:02] Describes his parents’ accents (father London, mother West Indian) – his mother’s use of language, his grandmother’s Guianese accents.

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