Len Deighton's Action Cook Book

A photograph of the front cover of the book Len Deighton's Action Cook Book

Len Deighton's Action Cook Book is a 1965 collection of cookery strips (known as a cookstrip, an invention of Len Deighton's from his days as a student at the Royal College of Art) originally published in the Observer newspaper, with additional information and notes. Aimed at "an audience of men unskilled at knowing their way around the kitchen",[1] the book has been described as a cult classic from the period and helped pave the transition from cooking being only for women, into bring a sophisticated expectation of a modern man.[2][3][4]

The book was reissued in 2009 by Harper Perennial (an imprint of Harper Collins) with original content and artwork, the 2nd edition of the cover artwork, and an additional updated introduction.[5]

In popular cultureEdit

At least one of the cookstrips from Observer is pinned up in Deighton's spy hero's kitchen in the 1965 film of his novel The IPCRESS File.[6]

The cookbook was mentioned in an episode of The Supersizers...,[7] focusing on the extremely high quantities of alcohol required for a 1970s cocktail party. Here Len recommends half a 70 cl bottle (35 cl) of hard spirit (e.g. rum, vodka, etc.) per person every two hours of a party, increasing to three-quarters (52.5 cl) of a bottle per person after 2 hours "since drinking will increase if they haven't gone home by then" (p126). This equates to 87.5 cl of spirits per person for a four-hour party.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Dossier, T.D., 2015. Action Cook. The Deighton Dossier. Available at: http://www.deightondossier.net/Books/Cookery/actioncook.html [Accessed July 23, 2015].
  2. ^ The Independent (2009). A taste of the action: Len Deighton's cult Sixties' cookbook is back. The Independent. Available at: https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/food-and-drink/features/a-taste-of-the-action-len-deightons-cult-sixties-cookbook-is-back-1707751.html (accessed 22/07/2015)
  3. ^ Baglee, P. and Hawkey, R. (2014). Fry Like A Spy. Eye Magazine. Available at: http://www.eyemagazine.com/feature/article/fry-like-a-spy (accessed 22/07/2015)
  4. ^ Daily Mail (2009). The spy who fed me: Why was Michael Caine always cooking in The Ipcress File?. The Daily Mail. Available at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/moslive/article-1181242/The-spy-fed-Why-Michael-Caine-cooking-The-Ipcress-File.html (accessed 22/07/2015)
  5. ^ Deighton, L., 2009. Action Cook Book Harper Per., London, UK: Harper Perennial.
  6. ^ IMDB (2015). The IPCRESS File. IMDB. available at: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0059319/trivia (accessed 22/07/2015)
  7. ^ Coveney, T., 2008. The Supersizers Go...Seventies.