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Richardson, Paul 1963-

RICHARDSON, Paul 1963-


Born 1963.


Agent—c/o Author Mail, Little, Brown and Company, Brettenham House, Lancaster Place, London WC2E 7EN, England.


Food and travel writer.


Not Part of the Package: A Year in Ibiza, Macmillan (London, England), 1993.

Our Lady of the Sewers: And Other Adventures in Deep Spain, Abacus (London, England), 1999.

Cornucopia: A Gastronomic Tour of Britain, Little, Brown (London, England), 2000.

Indulgence: Around the World in Search of Chocolate, Little, Brown (London, England), 2003.

Contributor to periodicals, including Harper's Bazaar and Attitude.


Paul Richardson's first book, Not Part of the Package: A Year in Ibiza, is a guided tour of the tiny island off the coast of Spain that was compared by Times Literary Supplement's Robert Carver to Marin County, California: "all Tarot readings and ageing hippies." Richardson writes of the drug culture, the gay beaches, and the discos, and food is a central theme. Carver felt that in spite of the tourism, "there is still a magic to the island which has clearly touched Richardson." Carver described the book as "likeable, well-written and good-humoured."

In reviewing Our Lady of the Sewers: And Other Adventures in Deep Spain, Carver said that Richardson writes in the vein of "the posh British gay male who chooses to live madly, truly, deeply, even flamboyantly, by the Med[iterranean]." Richardson describes his Spanish explorations in the Moorish section of Granada, his meeting of modern Spanish Muslims in the Alpujarra mountains, and his taking part in sheepherding and in a pig killing, and provides a tongue-in-cheek account of a sighting of the Virgin Mary. He includes some short stories of a sexual nature and describes the renovation of a home shared by him and his lover. Carver noted that Richardson's writing becomes more tender when he writes about this last topic, suggesting that Richardson "can be puckish, witty, casually erudite, and when he wants to, delivers acute and sharply observed portraits of both people and places."

A London Observer contributor called Richardson's Cornucopia: A Gastronomic Tour of Britain "Sunday-supplement food writing made flesh: hedonistic, leisurely fodder for foodies." Richardson writes of hearty food, from leg of lamb to wild mushrooms and farm cheeses. Paul Levy remarked in Times Literary Supplement that the book is an "account of a belly-stretching solo tour of English, Irish, and Scottish producers of specialty foods, entailing endless beds-and-breakfasts and far too many grisly meals in greasy spoons of various ethnic cuisines." Levy commented on Richardson's lack of acknowledgment of previously published books similar to the author's own as well as Richardson's failure to address the specifics of "intensive farming and the diet of the underclass that he constantly moans about." Levy also commented on the fact that many low-income people in Britain cannot cook, and consequently spend more than is necessary for "added value" and convenience factors. Levy suggested that "food writers have an important job to do, to cajole the well-off to spend more money on food, and to educate and persuade the less well-off to swap their expensive microwaved food for less expensive and better food that they cook themselves."

Richardson begins Indulgence: Around the World in Search of Chocolate by describing a gift he received as a child from his grandmother in the late 1960s. The box of Lindt Chocolate Animals contained sculpted animals, each in its own compartment, that his grandmother urged him to eat slowly to make them last. In the book Richardson studies the history of chocolate and how cocoa was discovered in the New World by conquering Europeans, who found it unappetizing. Settlers who followed, particularly of religious orders, took to it readily, even incorporating it into their feast days, but in the seventeenth century, the Catholic Church deemed the food that had first been used by Native Americans decadent and dangerous, filled with "malignity and the ferment of revolt." This was a self-fulfilling prophecy in that a few years later, the Society of Jesus realized that rather than give up their chocolate, many of its members were leaving the order.

Chocolate soon reached Europe, where Catholics enjoyed it and where Quakers who had difficulty finding work in already established trades took up chocolate making, particularly concentrating on producing cocoa. They set up cocoa rooms, which were acceptable alternatives to pubs. "What's more," noted Kathryn Hughes in the Times Literary Supplement, "as if to show that God approved, chocolate turned a tidy profit for its masters." Richardson comments on the Quaker companies, including Cadbury, Fry, and Rowntree, and American chocolate producers Hershey and Mars. Hughes noted that Richardson has an easy time describing the chocolate-making process, while putting into words the smells and tastes of various types of chocolate is more difficult. "It is here that Richardson pushes up against the limits of language, trying to find a way of talking about chocolate that moves beyond simile to reach the essence of the thing." Hughes felt that a great triumph of the book is that Richardson makes readers "feel—and taste—those Lindt Chocolate Animals as if for the very first time."



Richardson, Paul, Indulgence: Around the World in Search of Chocolate, Little, Brown (London, England), 2003.


Observer (London, England), September 19, 1993, Jonathan Keates, review of Not Part of the Package: A Year in Ibiza, p. 56; February 11, 2001, review of Cornucopia: A Gastronomic Tour of Britain, p. 18.

Spectator, February 8, 2003, Henry Hobhouse, review of Indulgence: Around the World in Search of Chocolate, p. 33.

Times Literary Supplement, June 4, 1993, Robert Carver, review of Not Part of the Package, p. 31; April 24, 1998, Robert Carver, review of Our Lady of the Sewers: And Other Adventures in Deep Spain, p. 30; July 28, 2000, Paul Levy, review of Cornucopia, p. 8; February 14, 2003, Kathryn Hughes, review of Indulgence, p. 24.*

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