Pop star Peter Frampton’s ex-wife Mary wrote to her friend Ringo Starr, requesting his favorite recipe. “Travel to your local fish and chips shop,” began his facetious reply. “Ask for cod and chips. Add salt and vinegar to taste. Eat with fingers for best results!” Fortunately, other musician cronies were more serious about cooking—and obliging enough, in fact, for her to compile a book, Mary Frampton & Friends Rock & Roll Recipes (Anchor/ Doubleday, $8.95).
Mary, a slender English beauty of 31, has enjoyed easy entree into the kitchens of the world’s rock heroes since the late ’60s when she took up with Peter Frampton. (They were married from 1972 to 1976.) Those who think rockers subsist on a liquid diet of Southern Comfort or prefer smoking herbs to cooking with them will be surprised to learn that Rolling Stone Ron Wood’s favorite quaff is passion fruit tea and that Linda McCartney quiets her brood with a caldron of pea soup. Mary also cajoled all three wives of the Brothers Gibb to reveal their spécialités de la maison. Barry favors honeyed pork, Robin savors steak pie and Maurice is a Yorkshire pudding addict.
Mary is the first to admit she personally needs all the help she can get in the kitchen. Self-taught, she has had more than her share of disasters since her first batch of éclairs emerged from the oven flat enough to mail. “Once,” she recalls, “I was preparing an enormous saucepan of vegetable curry when I spilled the whole thing on the floor. I just scooped it back up and served it,” she giggles. “What else could I do?” On another occasion she had stuffed an oversized squash, fastened it with needles and baked it. “I completely forgot about the pins until everyone was eating,” she groans, “then I went pale. I thought I was going to be sick.” Two needles are still missing, she says.
Quite obviously, Mary did not capture Peter Frampton’s heart through his stomach. They grew up together in West Wickham, a suburb of London where her father was a property evaluator and her mother a trained cook. At age 19, Mary dropped out of Croyden College of Art, where she was studying fashion and textiles, to move to London with Peter and work as a photographer’s model. “God knows what we ate in those days,” she says. “Peter was good at cornflakes, but I didn’t even have a clue as to what to do with a pork chop.” Their problems were partially solved when they became vegetarians. Mary would send her husband off to the recording studio with a picnic basket containing one of the few dishes she had mastered: lentil quiche.
After their separation Frampton settled down in his tax exile home in upstate New York, while Mary rubbernecked across the U.S. before heading back to London to collate her recipes. She still has their old four-story Victorian house and now shares it with Hal Lindes, lead guitarist for a New Wave band called Darling. As an author, she’s become a voracious reader, lately finishing “all of Lillian Hellman, Dorothy Parker and Colette.” She also continues to entertain old rocker pals at small dinners where the fare might include Stephen Bishop’s cheese brûlée, Yvonne Elliman’s teriyaki steak or Paul Butterfield’s “happy chicken” (eggs sauteed with onions). Most of the home cooking in her book—which is liberally seasoned with anecdotes and photographs—is rather ambitious. This, observes Mary, is probably a musician’s reaction to the junk-food life on the road. Whatever the reason, the one name not dropped in either Mary’s tome or at her table is Meat Loaf.