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An Omelette and a Glass of Wine (Cookery Library) [Paperback]

Elizabeth David
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

29 Mar 1990 Cookery Library
A collection of Elizabeth David's short pieces on food and wine.

Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (29 Mar 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140468463
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140468465
  • Product Dimensions: 21.2 x 13.4 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 85,271 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Elizabeth David rejuvenated the British attitude towards home cookery and is still considered to be one of the greatest food writers ever. She wrote extensively on food and wine and her enthusiasm for European cooking encouraged a revolution of the British culinary scene. Her books have remained influential since her death in 1992. This final compilation has been put together by her literary executor, Jill Norman. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
and with the dust-jacket painting of 'The Eggs', (by courtesy of Cedric Morris's Estate and in possession of the author) opening to 318 high quality pages casually interspersed with charming black and white illustrations and the odd photograph, this book is sure to appeal to the Elizabeth David fan.

'Here for the first time is a selection of ED's journalistic work written for a wide range of publications.
Articles, book reviews and travel pieces, they will be new to many of her readers and a delight to all for their highly personal flavour.....She writes so vividly that we can see, taste and even smell the dishes she describes....'

The book is spilt into bite-sized chapters, too many to mention here, but include, e.g.:-

Big Bad Bramleys
Eating out in Provincial France 1965-1977
Fruits de Mer
Para Navidad
How Bare is your Cupboard?
Table Talk
Whisky in the Kitchen
Potted Fish and Fish Pastes
The Markets of France
Traditional Christmas Dishes
Isabella Beaton and her Book

sandwiched between an introduction and a 9-page index with featured recipes in a bold typeface.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
This is a collection of her writings taken from newspapers and magazines she wrote for. The recipes are clear enough for anyone to follow, even the most amateur cook.
Extremely witty, with a scholarly approach to her research, this makes an ideal bedside table book for anybody interested in raising the stakes in the kitchen.
Many women over the years have called her name blessed, and emphatically state that she saved their marriages.
Worth every penny.
Edward Mitchell
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132 of 153 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The title says it all 7 Oct 1999
By A Customer
In the UK today you could be forgiven for thinking that the era condemned by Ms David in many of her writings was a figment of someone's imagination. Post-war shortages? Nasty and ersatz flavourings recommended as ingredients in recipes? Over-complicated and over-priced dishes in mediocre restaurants? How quaintly historic.
After all, we live surrounded by food and its images. There seem to be as many magazines featuring food as there are featuring improbably-breasted women on the top-shelf of the corner shop; book-stores are piled high with recipe books by chefs who have achieved celebrity status; and the question is often not 'does your local supermarket sell balsamic vinegar,' but, 'how many kinds, and where from, exactly'?
So what is the point of reading this (or indeed any) of Elizabeth David's books? The answer is as simple as the title of the book. David's culinary lifetime was spent in encouraging the fresh, the simple and above all the fitting meal. This is much more than giving hints and recipes, or stunning yourself and your guests with exotic and hard-to-achieve perfection, it is an attitude of mind about eating and appreciating food. Lost in a welter of food from every country and culture in the world (I even discovered an Inuit recipe for seal-blubber ice-cream the other day, which is one ingredient I suspect my supermarket-of-choice has not got around to selling, at least as yet), David's often ascerbic style when she writes about bad food provides as much relish as her descriptions of what is good.
And much as I might enjoy the occasional beautifully seared loin of some imported fish I've never tried before, on a bed of ginger and lemongrass flavoured veggies, with a something-or-other salsa,(to say nothing of the possibility of seal blubber ice-cream for pud), there are those days when only the perfectly simple will do. Perhaps a beautiful and simple omelette, with of course, a glass of chilled white wine. Enjoy!
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  10 reviews
49 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars When Food was FOOD ; A culinary pilgrimage 20 April 1998
By cookyoberg@aol.com - Published on Amazon.com
British author Elizabeth David belongs with Julia Child and M.F.K. Fisher as a culinary giant of her generation. Her cookbooks were not haphazard collections of recipes, but profoundly researched tomes dedicated to the purity of authentic cuisines, the ageless pleasure of good eating. An OMELETTE AND A GLASS OF WINE is, perhaps, the most personal of all her works. It is a compilation of three decades of her columns for various magazines -- but, more important, a book of her personal quest for wonderful food. The pilgrimage took her from her native England, to sunny France and Italy, to Greece, to Egypt, to the evocative flavors of bygone cities and ages. The essays take us to the quais of southern France in search of sardines, the kitchens of Italy and France, to little restaurants that exist no more, and to gardens that, like Paradise, are a remote memory in a modern world. But the book is perfect in evoking, recapturing, recreating a cuisine in the context of the life it is a part of. Take for instance her old friend, Norman Douglas. He was a character passionate about food. In eating a fig, he knew the exact garden in which it was grown, the tree, the branch it had been plucked from, the tempests and perfect sunny days that had visited it throughout its life. And for Elizabeth David, the search for the authentic sometimes led to the simplest places. The title essay has to do with the search for the perfect omelette -- and finally tracking down the famous Mere Poulard's authentic recipe...consisting only of eggs and a little butter. The glass of wine with the omelette is a kind of completion, the expression of the perfection of life lying in a kind of simplicity...an omelette and a glass of white wine. The river that runs through the book is this tireless pilgrimage through cuisine of all kinds, of all ages. In it, David herself accepts nothing half-rate, no half measures. In all, the reader will be satisfied, not only with the few recipes strewn throughout, but food that has a context of wonderful people, places, and times. Her other books are astounding, and are a must for any serious cook. Her English Bread and Yeast Cookery is the transcendently authoritative history of breads of all kinds in England. More useful in the kitchen are her French Country Cooking, French Provincial Cooking, Summer Cooking, and Mediterranean Food-- all of which contain a cornucopia of great recipes and wonderful flavors. David's cooking is a kind of patient perfection, not a guide to quick and easy cooking or a cuisine of substitutes, calorie-counting, low-fat remedies for the ills of the body. It is the cuisine of people who savor their food, appreciate it as art, love it for the context of good nourishment and good living it has in our lives.
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A tour down memory lane..... 18 May 2001
By Dianne Foster - Published on Amazon.com
This is my first Elizabeth David book, and I intend to read many more. I've been a fan of M.F.K. Fisher for many years and read and enjoyed her books thoroughly. David's writing is somewhat similar--though not as personal--at least AN OMELETTE AND A GLASS OF WINE is not terribly personal. Still, David shares many aspects of her work and travel that allowed me to feel connected to her in a personal way.
David was hired to write food/cooking/dining articles for various print media and paid very little initially. Her job involved traveling in France and Italy, visiting various inns and restaurants and markets--which she apparently enjoyed. I started to title my review "born to late" as I would have liked her job. Europe in the 1960s--especially France and Italy must have been wonderful (well my husband says it was and he lived there then). Imagine eating French cooking for a living!! Ah yes, another vicarious reading experience.
David tells of her travels to "job" locations--why I think this book is part travelog. Sometimes she has been preceded by Henry James or Marcel Proust, but most often by some obscure person who passed through in the mid-1800s or earlier and recorded their experiences for posterity. David describes the meals she and others have eaten, as well as food preparation (growing, transporting, cooking). Her book includes photographs of a few famous chefs. In most she cases provides information about recipes and lists ingredients--details that might help the reader replicate a dish. She warns the reader it is impossible to replicate a dish exactly owing to many conditions, not the least of which is the quality of the basic ingredients. She finds it amusing when a recipe is touted as being "old" and includes a modern ingredient like margarine.
Although many of David's recipes are historical and some ingredients can no longer be had, still I am tempted to try and replicate some of them. My knowledge of cooking has been expanded by what I've read. I now know more than I did about cheeses, mushrooms, wines, and other French foods. This little book is enlightening.
I'll store AN OMELETTE AND A GLASS OF WINE with my cookbooks in the kitchen, but it could just as easily be construed as a history/travel book as a cookbook. OMELETTE is filled with anecdotal information about food origins and interesting tidbits. For example, David says the French invented the pizza (it was called pissaladiere) not the Italians. She provides historical evidence Whiskey has been used as a key ingredient in some very upscale dishes. She sets the record straight on Sardines (from the sea near Sardinia) and Syllabub, and the differences between Parmesan and Gruyere--the former Italian and the latter French--but is one really better than the other or are they the same thing? I love this book and I will refer to it over and over.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In love. :-) 23 Mar 2007
By Just a reader - Published on Amazon.com
I've always been scared to buy ED's books.

Why? Because most reviewers go out of their way to point out how intelligent she is (true), how ruthless she is in terms of staying authentic, how she fills her books with references to obscure and elite sources. She always seems to be described as less approachable then most food-writers, with a sharp wit and an even sharper tongue.

To that I say...


She's not an elite-writer, she's simply a very smart woman with a deep love for food. She doesn't seem rigid or overly strict with her recipies at all. She just seems like a lovely entertaining expert on all things edible, explaining why things taste better when prepared a certain way, making you ponder the truth in what she writes, and making you realise she's telling you things you should have already figured out on your own. She's a teacher, but a very loving one. Elegant without being prissy, experienced and willing to share.

I wish I had bought this book much earlier. It's filled with wonderful essays, thoughts and descriptions. It made me hungry and happy at the same time! If you like a book with more substance then just a HUGE index of 10.000 recipies -like some cookbooks are- then this is perfect.
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book that merits its designation as a "classic." 13 April 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
When I first read this collection of articles written for various London papers and magazines, I couldn't see why Elizabeth David is so revered in the world of food writing; later my memory showed me. This book lingers in your mind like those taste memories it evokes. The best pieces in this book alternate their focus between rare foods (bruscandoli, wild hops shoots harvested for a brief moment at the end of spring in Venice) and easily obtainable ones (an omelette and a glass of wine). At either extreme, David evokes not only an interest in her subject but also a new appreciation of our own memories and new experiences. She defines "the best kind of cookery writing" as "courageous, courteous, adult. It is creative in the true sense of that ill-used word, creative because it invites the reader to use his own critical and inventive faculties, sends him out to make discoveries, form his own opinions, observe things for himself, instead of slavishly accepting what the books tell him"; her own writing lives up to these criteria. Appropriately, then, this collection contains few recipes to "slavishly" accept but instead offers many ideas to entertain.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 50 years of enjoying Elizabeth David 27 Sep 2007
By Gillian Turner De Perez - Published on Amazon.com
My mother introduced me to the wonders of Elizabeth David 50 years ago! In her English country kitchen, with all the rigors of post-war shortages, she would pore over Elizabeth David's mediterranean recipes. In those days the basic ingredients available in a small village didn't extend to much more than carrots and potatoes. But David's recipes would inspire my mother's creativity, and we would eat the most amazing dishes, with the ingredients adapted to what could be unearthed in the village shop. Now, so many years later, this compendium of articles brings back vividly that - for me - happy time. It is a book to pick up, dip into, take note of her suggestions, try out the recipes. It transports you to France and back again, it gives sensible advice, brings a mixture of common sense and fantasy to the chaos which is modern living today. And yes, an omelette and a glass of wine (or two, as Elizabeth David so sensibly says) is my favorite meal! Thank you.
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