Tip of the hat to Tom Spurgeon for this, because it's one of those times when a minor cartoon spins off a major train of thought.
It's based on an old cartoon that ran in the Observer, with, I'm suspecting, one of the major changes being that the new version is called "Len Deighton's Cookstrips."
And that "broccolini" probably didn't exist, or at least wasn't being sold anywhere you could find it, back in the early 60s, when the original series of comics ran.
Indeed, a little sleuthing around reveals this Daily Mail article from 2009, which isn't so long ago but long enough ago that, in the sample strips from that book release, Deighton's name isn't blockbustered in the corner.
What you see above that and to the right is a photo of Len Deighton and Michael Caine on the set of "The Ipress File," in which Deighton's spy, Harry Palmer, cooks.
The fact that Harry Palmer cooks doesn't particularly surprise me. What surprised me was that I thought the guy on the left was Peter Sellers. I recognized Caine, since I'm not what the British call "a complete prat."
Apparently, the cooking thing left everyone thunderstruck back in 1964, however, given that both articles make a big deal out of it, and the Observer even leads with the frantic message from the studio to the set saying, “Dump Caine’s spectacles and make the girl cook the meal. He is coming across as a homosexual.”
Because most studio execs are, indeed, what the British call "complete prats."
That was four years after Jack Lemmon had used his tennis racket as a strainer when making spaghetti for Shirley Maclaine in "The Apartment," but maybe that's kind of the point: C.C. Baxter was not a manly man like the execs at his office, and the movie was heartwarming because a non-manly guy who was cute in his attempts to cook and in his refusal to behave like a total shit ended up with the girl anyway.
Not to be confused with the 1963 film, "Tom Jones," in which our hero seduces, and is seduced by, a woman who turns out to be (never mind -- you should stream it) over a meal that became a sensation despite neither of them having cooked it. And yet they sure were cooking.
It was, however, two years after the first Bond film had established an audience for men who knew what they were about, the difference being that Bond relied on cooks and bartenders who knew how to follow precise instructions or who didn't require them in the first place.
It wasn't until 1966 that Caine played "Alfie," which featured the asides-to-the-audience made popular in Tom Jones, except that, while Albert Finney remains a sort of naive, randy, good-natured Candide to the end, the appeal of Michael Caine starts high and then fades and pales and palls until the end, by which time you feel a bit sorry for Alfie but are still repelled by him.
And, no, I'm sure he couldn't cook, but just about the time the Angry Young Men of British drama/cinema were uncorking lost, despicable people like Alfie, Hugh Hefner was counseling young men on this side of the Atlantic how to be cool, and, as he proclaimed the appeal of a Bondian Renaissance man, he included the notion that knowing your way around the kitchen is, indeed, sexy.
Granted, it often came across as more of a tactic than an actual personality trait, but Bond and Hefner clung to the idea that you're only a cad if you aren't out front about your intentions.
Which, if not perfect, is a step above Alfie.
Meanwhile, for those more apt to be seen in a Toyota than an Aston-Martin, GoComics still runs classics of Cheap Thrills Cuisine, through which Bill Lombardo and Thach Bui once preached a more modest approach to cuisine.
Trust me, guys, it'll still work. And it even contains a little bit of that endearing tennis-racket-strainer naivete, which couldn't hurt.
Palmer, Bond & Hefner combined aren't as cool as this guy: