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56 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No ordinary book, 29 Oct 2003
By 
Honey from a weed is no ordinary book. It's not a cookery book, a history book, or a travel book, but something of all three. Gray has lived around the Mediterranean for 40-odd years, and knows several of its cultures - particularly Greece, Catalonia and Italy - deeply. She writes mostly about peasant food, and how it is shaped by the economy and geography of the regions where it develops - religious fasting in the Greek islands, for instance, takes place at a time when historically food was scarce, for instance. She has also gathered extremely useful information on wild plants and herbs and their names in many different languages and dialects. She is a hugely knowledgeable, scholarly but entertaining writer.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'Poverty rather than wealth gives the good things of life their true significance......', 19 Sep 2007
This edition is the updated version with foreword from John Thorne and is interspersed with charming black and white illustrations, from Corinna Sargood.

And since Rick Stein mentioned it on his latest TV series, 'Mediterranean Escapes', the few copies that were still available have flown out of Amazon and off the shelves of the second-hand bookshops!
Now it is getting rather hard to find!

'Patience Gray, known for her 1950's classic, Plats Du Jour, has written a passionate autobiographical cookery book, Mediterranean through and through, and as compelling as a first-class novel.
Sharing her life with a sculptor it was his appetite for marble and sedimentary rocks which took them to Tuscany, Catalonia, Naxos and Apulia.
These are the places which in turn inspired, 'Honey From a Weed'. .....
The recipes in this book accumulated during this 'marble odyssey' in the 60s and, went on accumulating when in 1970 we settled in the vaulted workspaces of a ruined sheep farm in the Salentine peninsula, exchanging marble for Lecce stone and tufa. Here, like so many others - foreshadowing the age to come - inscribed as artisans we also cultivate some acres of stony red earth. Living in the wild, it has often seemed that we were living on the margins of literacy. This led to reading the landscape and learning from people, that is to first hand experience. This experience is both real and necessarily limited....

Everywhere, she has learned from the country people whose way of life she shared, adopting their ways of growing, cooking and conserving the staple foods of the Mediterranean. She describes the rustic foods and dishes with feeling and fidelity, writing from inside, not outside, and with a deep sense of the history and continuity of Mediterranean ways.....'

'....A few words remain to be said about how to read this book. Like many cookbooks it is set out into chapters, each of which is given its separate culinary subject.....followed by the recipes that relate to it.
I think it is a mistake to read the book straight through. The narrative is one of intricate connection, with one dish...place......person evoking the thought or memory - and hence description - of another.
Each of these should be seen as the stroke of a brush, a brush that is art work on many parts of the canvas at once....... '

...Good cooking is the result of a balance struck between frugality and liberality.....It is born out in communities where the supply of food is conditioned by the seasons. Once we lose touch with the spendthrift aspect of natures' provisions epitomized in the raising of a crop, we are in danger of losing touch with life itself.
When Providence supplies the means, the preparation and sharing of food takes on a sacred aspect.
The fact that every crop is of short duration promotes a spirit of making the best of it while it lasts and conserving part of it for future use.....
In my experience it is the countryman who is the real gourmet and for good reason; it is he who has cultivated, raised, hunted or fished the raw materials and has made the wine himself....perhaps this very old approach is beginning once again to inspire those who cook in more complex urban situations......
In my view it was not necessarily the chefs of prelates and princes who invented dishes. Country people and fishermen created them, great chefs refined them and wrote them down........'

374 pages, split over chapters, including:

Beans, Peas and Rustic Soups
Potato Dishes and Egg Dishes
Past'asciutta and Pasta in Bordo
Fish, Shellfish, Crustaceans; Smoked and Salt Fish
Vegetable Heritage
Edible Weeds
Some Products of the Pig
Boar, Hare, Fox, Pheasant, Partridge, Pigeon
Quail, Rabbit, Guinea Fowl, Turkey, Chicken
Calf, Cow, Ox, Horse, Buffalo
Lamb and Kid
A few Sweets
Preserves
A few Conserves
Some Flower Buds, leaves, Seeds, Pods and Fruits
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Honey from the Pen, 5 April 2006
Patience Grey was a wonderful writer who devoted most of her life (it seems) to feeding 'the sculptor' rather than writing. Always in pursuit of the perfect stone for his work they ended up in various far-flung corners of the Midi and Patience crafted exquisite and simple food from weeds with no utensils. And then she crafted the food-writing equivalent of Manna from the experience. Honey from A Weed is a beautiful, beautiful piece of prose, a document of now-vanished mediterranean rusticity and tantalising to the taste buds. A book everyone should find a space for on their shelves - I love it unreservedly.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A 'must have' book, 8 April 2013
Honey from a Weed

This is one of the few food related books that you can buy any cook, celebrity or otherwise with out fearing they will take umbrage.

It's not a cook book in the traditional sense, it is much like Claudia Roden publishing on a budget, and compares very favourably to A New Book of Middle Eastern Food, or one of David's early works.

I always rate food related books by what I can carry in my head that adds greatly to my cooking armoury. If I find one tip per book then I consider that twenty quid well spent.

This book has at least two valuable tips that I can bring to mind not having picked up my copy for over a year.

Season late as far as salt and pepper is concerned. Certainly the pepper continues to carry a big aromatic punch instead of just background warmth.

When adding garlic, also add late but more importantly purée it with a little oil and salt. The salt helps to purée the garlic and adding it late and in liquid form adds a whole new layer to the flavour.

Fantastic 'must have' book just like Billy Bragg's Mermaid Avenue!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a history of food in the Med and europe, 28 Feb 2009
By 
I bought this book some years ago,as well as giving recipes it gives a history of food.The book really covers material that Elizabeth David does but in greater depth I found it to be very interesting and informative and would recommend it to anyone interested in the origins of fasting and feasting and in the way food is cooked in the Mediterranean area. The book is mmore about why food is cooked than specific recipes. Strongly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a truly great book, 27 Nov 2013
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Honey from a Weed evokes a lost era. It distills the essence of good honest cooking using "in season" ingredients which many chefs and food writers now promote. You can loose yourself for countless hours enjoying the relaxed style of writing. Especially. good on a cold winters night when you remember past hot summers and look forward to new spring ingredients.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Could not put it down, 21 Feb 2014
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Very well written and I love the tles between the recipes. Back to an age when cookery books were fun.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Honey from a Weed, 2 April 2013
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Read about this book whilst reading another cook book and couldn't resist it.
It arrived on time and in good order.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Honey from a Weed, 27 Mar 2013
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A refreshingly original cookery book written by an author who has a legendary reputation as an original cookery writer. An interesting insight into the origins of Mediterranean cuisine
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5.0 out of 5 stars Better than expected, 6 Jun 2012
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The book did say used but was almost brand new - was really pleased with it, even better than I expected. Very happy with service received.

Oh by the way, the book is Fantastic.......
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Honey from a Weed (Cook's Classic Library)
Honey from a Weed (Cook's Classic Library) by Patience Gray (Paperback - Mar 1997)
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