Publishers Grub Street are to be congratulated on re-issuing this single volume collection of Elizabeth David's first three books (A Book of Mediterranean Food, French Country Cooking and Summer Cooking), which have too long been out of print in hardback. The paperbacks are useful but tend to fall to pieces with repeated use. Moreover, even at full price this represents something of a bargain. The charm of the originals, with the evocative drawings by John Minton and Adrian Daintrey, remains intact. Grub Street have discreetly changed page numbers in references and that appears to be about it. The lobster on the cover is as forbidding and jealous of its dignity as Mrs David, famously, was wont to be. (The changing cover illustrations of ED reprints over the years might make an interesting study. The 70s paperback of Mediterranean Food
features a spectacularly boring photograph of a corner of a French market-meaningless, until you spot in the foreground a big bunch of garlic
, a symbol even then of everything Mediterranean.
As for the books, what is there to say? They are what they are. Everybody knows about them. The fumes of historical myth ("grey post-war Britain ... sudden blaze of southern sunshine") rises from them like incense. It's difficult to recapture the effect they must have had in the 50s, and perhaps it's scarcely worth the effort. One returns to them periodically, wearied of the exertions of the gastro-pornographers, to refresh oneself at the spring of Elizabeth David's perfect taste. Or so the theory goes. However, it's important to remember, what seems in danger of being forgotten, that despite the telegraphic concision of some of the recipes, these are practical books, intended to be used over and over in the kitchen. Elizabeth David regarded herself first and foremost not as a writer but as a cook. These little volumes really are indispensable, imperishable classics of the kitchen. --Robin Davidson
From the Inside Flap
"Everyone who loves good food will welcome this reprint in one volume, hardback and durable, of the three classics of the kitchen which first made us familiar with the name Elizabeth David. They have been necessary to my generation, they will be necessary to our children and grand children." These are the opening lines from Jane Grigson's preface to the original edition of Elizabeth David Classics
published in 1980 and her words remain as true today as they were nearly 20 years ago. Elizabeth David's cookery books have inspired generations of cooks and food lovers and this edition of three of her finest books is an essential addition to every culinary library.
"Every time we begin to feel fussed by the cookery elaborators with their flashy tricks and colour photos, we can restore confidence by returning to Elizabeth David." --Jane Grigson
"If only more keen and young cooks of today--both professional and amateur--would just set aside a few moments each week, to delve into the writings of Elizabeth David, the standard of cookery in this country could eventually become something of note. As it is, I imagine she might now be tearing her hair out with frustration and familiar ire, were she still to be part of most of it. To those who have a genuine leaning towards time well-spent around a well-worn kitchen table, a more enchanting enthusiast of that particular pleasure we shall possibly never know again." --Simon Hopkinson
About the Author
Elizabeth David developed her taste for good food and wine when she lived with a French family as a student. After returning to England she taught herself to cook in order to reproduce some of the delicious foods she had learned to appreciate. She found not only the practical side but also the literature of cookery of absorbing interest.
Elizabeth David lived and kept house in France, Italy, Greece, Egypt and India, learning the local dishes and cooking them in her own kitchens. Her first book, Mediterranenan Food, appeared in 1950. In 1951 French Country Cooking was published and in 1954, after a year of research in Italy, Italian Food. This was followed by Summer Cooking(1955), French Provincial Cooking (1960) and Spices, Salt and Aromatics in the English Kitchen (1970). In 1973 Mrs David severed all connections with the business trading under her name and concentrated on study and experiment for English Bread and Yeast Cookery, for which she won the 1977 Glenfiddich Writer of the Year Award. An Omelette and a Glass of Wine, a selection of her journalistic work, was published in 1984 and Harvest of the Cold Months, her book on the use of ice and the making of ices was edited by Jill Noman and published posthumously in 1994. She was honoured with many prizes, made Chevalier de l'Ordre du Merite Agricole by the French in 1977, awarded the OBE in 1976 and the CBE in 1986. Honorary doctorates were conferred on her by the universities of Essex and Bristol. In 1982 she was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. She died on 22 May 1992.