Burgess wrote on food and cooking in a variety of publications. Food and drink relates to identity and memory in his writing, and is also, when taken in excess, used for comic and grotesque development of his characters. Occasionally he presents a complete recipe: here is Lancashire hotpot, which he remembers in an article for Harpers and Queen in 1990:
‘In his book The Famine Business (1977) Colin Tudge speaks of the potato pie as ‘one of the most economical and succulent dishes of all Europe – nutritionally unimpeachable. And it was born of austerity.’ All great food is peasant or factory-operative in origin. … In old age I fancy the old Lancashire dishes, above all the hot pot that was served on the stroke of the start of the New Year. It was called the Devil’s Supper. New Year’s Day is the Feast of the Circumcision, and its vigil is a day of abstinence from meat. So, in Catholic Lancashire, to rush to eating a meat dish as the vigil ended expressed an impatience with the idea of abstinence that could jocularly be termed diabolic. The diabolic dish was, and is, heavenly.
It needs very slow cooking in an oven. Into a family-sized, brown, oval-shaped dish with a lid, you place the following ingredients: best end of neck of lamb, trimmed of all fat; potatoes and onions thickly sliced. These go in alternate layers. Season well, cover with good stock, top with oysters or, if you wish, sliced beef kidneys. There is no need for officious timing: you will know when it is done. Serve with pickled red cabbage and a cheap claret. In his novel The Human Factor, Mr Graham Greene has the effrontery to add carrots to the dish. He promised to remove those carrots in a re-issue of the book, but they are still redly and wrongly there.’