The Victorian age in England produced an abundance of eccentrics; not least among them a Frenchman called Alexis Soyer. He was a dandy, a cook, a practical joker, a best‐selling author, a gourmet who organised soup kitchens in the Irish famine, a man‐about‐town who slaved in the Crimea as the valued assistant of Florence Nightingale, and an inventor whose patent stove is still in use after more than a hundred years.
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