By Ian Herbert
Willie Fowler was never terribly optimistic about his chances of making it as a food writer and, in his own lifetime, his expectations were right. His book, Countryman's Cooking, published in 1965 and detailing culinary exploits in his own Cumbrian kitchen, failed resoundingly and was out of print within a few years.
Though the down-to-earth Cumbrian always railed against self-styled gourmets - thay had a habit of jeering at those "who prefer egg sauce with their salmon instead of shrimp", he always said - Fowler's book has now become one of Britain's most improbable culinary hits, after a publisher in the foodie's paradise of Ludlow, Shropshire, bought the book for 50p in a charity shop and decided to republish. David Burnett expected a few hundred sales but is not far off 10,000 - and rising - and currently on his fourth reprint in as many months.