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Food In England: A complete guide to the food that makes us who we are [Paperback]

Dorothy Hartley
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
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Book Description

2 July 2009

Her love of the infinite variety of English cooking and her knowledge of British culture and history show why our food should never be considered dull or limited. There are unusual dishes such as the Cornish Onion and Apple Pie, and even recipes for fungi, from common field mushrooms to puffballs. She describes some delicious puddings, cakes and breads, including an exotic violet flower ice cream, an eighteenth century coconut bread and Yorkshire teacakes. The finely-executed line drawings that accompany many of the recipes are more than just beautiful; they inform the cook about different varieties and techniques of food-handling.

First published in 1954, FOOD IN ENGLAND was the bible of english cooks and had a deep influence on many contemporary cooks and food writers. It will undoubtedly attract a new generation of admirers.

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Food In England: A complete guide to the food that makes us who we are + Lost World: England 1933-1936
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Product details

  • Paperback: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Piatkus (2 July 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0749942150
  • ISBN-13: 978-0749942151
  • Product Dimensions: 23.2 x 15.4 x 4.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 56,386 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

This is the best of all books on English food. First published in 1954, it has popped up in print at intervals ever since, always welcome, always finding new admirers. Dorothy Hartley described Food In England as being like "an old-fashioned kitchen, not impressive, but a warm and friendly place, where one can come in at any time and have a chat with the cook". So it is; and like a good old-fashioned kitchen it's intensely personal and full of bits and pieces at first sight not directly related to the production of food but somehow essential to the character of the place. Writing when she did, Dorothy Hartley was perhaps one of the last food historians to have easy access to the living past and her book views the preceding thousand years of food in England as a continuous present, all the cooks of the past wandering in and out of her kitchen. Full of traditional recipes, historical information, regional kitchen lore, personal reminiscences, household hints, gardening tips and brewing instructions, illuminating quotations and beautifully illustrated with expressive line drawings, Food In England is unsummarisable, copious and generous. Just buy it. Nobody with any interest whatsoever in English (and Scottish and Welsh) food, or who has any concern in what might make Britain British, should be without it. --Robin Davidson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


A classic book without any worthy successor - a must for any keen English cook (DELIA Smith)

Dorothy Hartley's Food in England has been in print for 58 years - and no wonder. It's a sharp and funny compendium of cooking tips and treats (Guardian)

Dorothy Hartley's ingenious ideas were one of my first inspirations; they show that English food should never be dismissed as boring (JOSCELINE DIMBLEBY)

extraordinary, idiosyncratic and utterly absorbing (BBC COUNTRYFILE MAGAZINE)

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My first kitchen was a stone-floored cottage in the Yorkshire dales. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A world that vanished as we glanced away 4 Jan 2011
By Peasant TOP 500 REVIEWER
This is a cookery book, a history, a romance, a guide to self-sufficiency,a handbook of wild food and elegy for rural life. All these things are blended together with poetry and wit, and enlivened by stunning drawings by the author. If you have an interest in the history of everyday life, or in proper food, you cannot be without this book.

"Food in England" was written in the middle of the 20th century. If you are middle-aged, it is the world of your childhood - yet it is now so vanished it is difficult to imagine. Fortunately Dorothy Hartley's prose is so vivid and intense she can bring that world to life for us. In fact, Hartley did for English food what Elizabeth David did for the Mediterranean; sadly, the British public wasn't listening, and we are the poorer for it.

Most of her experience is in the North, in rural areas, so she describes the last of a way of life which had lasted, with few changes, for a thousand years - yet which is still, of course, clearly remembered by thousands of elderly people. I can only add, if one of those elderly people is YOUR granny, talk to her now before it is too late. It is a way of life where electricity, gas, and even mains drainage are not to be taken for granted, where food is seasonal not because we are trendy but because we have no choice.

There are many recipes, but they assume a foundation knowledge of cookery and are given in anecdotal rather than instruction style. Here you will find how to make your own haggis, to cure a ham, bake an Epiphany tart, mix the contents of a wassail bowl and roast an "six-legged goose". But there is also a huge amount of social history; some explicit, such as a chapter on the Industrial Revolution subtitled "Starvation and Plenty" - some embedded in the writing about food and cooking.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
I can't better the Amazon synopsis and I agree with all of the other reviews but would add a couple of comments. As a good read about the best of home and country life this book is hard to beat. Re-enactors should especially note that this book was written when gas and electric stoves were still newish technology - the author had direct knowledge of cooking on solid fuel stoves and has also included a really useful section explaining cooking on open fires of wood/coal/peat etc. NB - have you bought a cauldron for camp cooking? You can cook much more than stews in it. Look at the description of how a road-mender(I think?) cooked an entire meal in a pail. This is described as witnessed at first hand - its an eye-opener!
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Traditional English Cooking 5 July 1999
By A Customer
Crammed with good advice on how to put up vegetables, butcher a pig, cure your own ham, and stuff a sheeps stomach in order to make haggis, this book is an aladdin's cave of often forgotten traditional English dishes and cooking methods, all awaiting rediscovery by the home cook and cooking professional. A strong argument in favor of English cookery as an unique and interesting cuisine, and a refutation to those who glibly dismiss its virtues.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exploded fowl 29 Mar 2011
By S. Hart
Amazing book: A readable cookbook that is hard to put down, and tells you about a way of life that has long gone, as well as recipes.

This weekend we killed off the old hens as they had stopped laying. So we went looking for things to do with tough old birds...... and a whole weekend of fun ensued! Not only simply reading about boiling cauldrons over a fire as the peats cool overnight, [cockaleekie soup, pot roast fowl] but on to what time of year to buy chickens at market, having completely forgotten that they are historically, like eggs, a seasonal food!
And then we discovered exploded fowl. What a wonderful name. What a very very very tender flavourful roast bird. What fun.

A treasure trove of cookery, social history, and fascination. A cookery book to read in bed, in the bath, and curled up in front of the fire. I don't keep it with the cookery books but with the small set of much loved old friends to graze in odd moments. [I'm now on my 3rd copy, one having been "loaned" away, and one fallen apart from over use].
If you haven't got this book - buy it!
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful book spoilt by 5 Oct 2009
This wonderful and absorbing book was spoilt because the paper back edition uses cheap blotty paper and small, smudged illustrations.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
As a medieval re-enactor involved in producing an annual banquet for the society I belong to, I am always on the look out for historical recipes, books etc. Having picked this book out I found I could not put it down. The vivid descriptions of various types of kitchens made you feel that you were actually there, you could feel the warmth around you. It is a book I will always return to not only for the varied recipes, but everthing else as well. It will have pride of place on my kitchen bookshelves. I thoroughly agree with Delia Smith's comments on the front cover, it is a definite must for any cook.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Breathing history 19 Feb 2012
By Jonners
I adore this book - it's a summary (albeit a very detailed one) of how food was created, prepared and eaten in pre-industrial Britain by one of the last serious food historians actually to have lived and run a kitchen in this world. It's not a realistic recipe collection (though you certainly can cook from it if you have a robust basic knowledge of European cooking) but is a rich account of just how central food (and, thus, survival) was to the minutiae of life before WW1. She writes with tremendous humour, and the illustrations are very evocative and lively - she has also experienced life in a wide range of different pre-industrial British societies: Yorkshire mountain farming, mining town, Welsh border cattle pastures, convent school, &c, &c, &c.

A rich and valuable resource to understand where British cooking and culture has come from, and a fine social history of the people who formed Britain as it is today.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
very good as expected
Published 2 days ago by MRS M E BIRD
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Interesting and well-researched
Published 7 days ago by Jane Arnold
5.0 out of 5 stars BRILLIANT
Wonderful service! Only ordered on 9th. April and received on 11th. April!! Wanted it for reading material before I go in for a knee op so very happy! :)
Published 3 months ago by DIVADEN
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative and entertaining
I found the book to be everything that Lucy Worsley said it would be in her BBC-TV show about Dorothy Hartley. I wish that I had known about it and read it forty years ago.
Published 4 months ago by Michael Drake
3.0 out of 5 stars review
I had read about this book and expected more but I will just have to read it slowly, plenty of history as well as receipts
Published 6 months ago by Linda
5.0 out of 5 stars For Foodies
Very interesting and consuming book. Old recopies and a wealth of culinary knowledge. A good and practical read. So there.
Published 8 months ago by k. bLANNING
4.0 out of 5 stars An acquired taste!
Dorothy Hartley is a little (oh! All right then, very . . . ) rambling and unfocused which many readers perhaps wont like and the person I bought this for was one of them. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Funforus
5.0 out of 5 stars cookery class
on recieving it down to reading ,found it a good read if you like history and like cooking the old way seen as it must be good for you as i am still here
Published 9 months ago by tarzan
4.0 out of 5 stars good book
If you like histories of our country this is a very good collection of facts about our diet,well put together and written.
Published 11 months ago by paul miller
5.0 out of 5 stars Food In England
Bought to replace an old copy which got thrown away by accident. This book has some great old traditional recipes in it, a very interesting read for any culinary historian.
Published 11 months ago by WILLIAM CLARKE
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