Almost 40 years ago, the Avril Elizabeth Home for the Mentally Handicapped in Johannesburg, South Africa, decided to put together a charity cookbook. To build buzz, the organizers reached out to celebrities asking them to submit their favorite recipes. One respondent was a newly wed Lady Diana Spencer, and her letter to the charity home in 1981, recently unearthed, includes a recipe for her favorite food: borscht.
According to ABC, a woman who recently visited the Avril Elizabeth Home happened to learn about the cookbook project from its original curator, Angeline Hopley. It turned out Hopley still had the written responses from many notable figures, not only Lady Di’s but also a letter from Queen Elizabeth’s team indicating that it would be a violation of palace rules to reveal The Queen Mother’s favorite meal. (A little fishy, since we all have a good idea of what Elizabeth II’s favorite meal is.) Margaret Thatcher submitted a rather detailed recipe for orange walnut cake, which sounds thoroughly British, and Princess Grace of Monaco also heeded the call.
Borscht, a traditional Ukrainian beet soup, is a dish that combines root vegetables with creamy dairy to create a hearty, vibrant meal served either cold or hot. What’s not to enjoy? The version that Diana sent along indicates only the ingredients “beetroot, natural yogurt, onions, chicken stock, milk, sour cream, salt and pepper.” Points to Di for keeping things simple.