December 17, 2017

Journalist was praised by his peers shortly before dying

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Recipe for a good life: wit, wisdom and decency

By Robert Cox
From Where I Stand

CHARLESTON, South Carolina — The sad and sudden news of the death of Dereck Foster followed a blaze of glory in which the Herald’s long-time writer on wine, restaurants and culinary affairs was fully and justly recognized. Dereck was praised by his peers for a lifetime devoted to raising standards in the food and wine industries and for improving Argentine taste across the board. Chefs who once may have trembled at the thought of an honest critic honoured him by giving him a feast.

For Herald readers all over the world, the loss of a man who enhanced their lives was compensated by the knowledge that he had not retired from the Herald forgotten and in obscurity. Dereck’s twilight revival and recognition was thanks to the man he referred to so often in his column as “my friend Harry.”

“Harry” is not, as many readers imagined, a fictional device. He is real and his full name is Harry Ingham and if a writer on food and wine may be said to have a muse, the muse was “my friend Harry.”

Dereck and Harry shared an adventure that began many years ago when I was editor of the Herald. I invited Dereck to take over a column called “Good Living” from a mediocre fellow with the ridiculous name Jamie Duff. Dereck, with constant help and advice from Harry, delivered truly good living to Herald readers for decades.

Dereck was able to draw on his rich experience as an apprentice journalist with the iconic Hearst Buenos Aires bureau chief Percy Forster, as as foreign correspondent in Spain and a much travelled author, with several books to his credit.

From his column Dereck waged war on overcharging, bad coffee and, among many other causes, managed to banish the once omnipresent green wine glasses from Buenos Aires. There was another side to his genius. He was also a great literary cook. His recipes produced delicious dishes. Dereck had a recipe for a good life composed of wit, wisdom and decency. He was a journalist and a gentleman, an exemplary combination, but he was, alas, a member of endangered species. Some lines from W.H. Auden come to mind: “Let us honour if we can the vertical man, though we value none but the horizontal one.”

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