28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on 14 February 2009
30 years ago, while I was still a student, I bought "Mediterranean Food" in a Penguin paperback edition. It became one of my basic cookbooks, and has been used frequently until the present. The paperback has become worn, with interesting food-stains here and there. The possibility of getting it in a hard-back edition, together with two other early classics, was therefore irresistible. The other two books incorporated in this edition have been equally inspiring. Sometimes, I read it for inspiration and not because I am planning a meal. But at other times I start with one or two ingredients. Quite often, I find a dish in David's book, which I then try out. David put great emphasis on using seasonal ingredients. Making use of the season's vegetables is no longer necessary from an economic or practical point of view. But from an environmental view it still makes sense, if it means that you can buy local produce that has not been transported across half the globe. And it is also an interesting challenge for a hobby-cook!
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 28 November 2009
I first owned Elizabeth David's volume of three books thirty years ago. It went missing ages ago - it is such a good book I am not surprised it mysteriously disappeared. Happily, I now own the book again and I am reacquainting myself with the recipes of the dishes I used to cook.
The book is more or less just as I remember it. Happily the publishers left it in the original, very readable format.
The recipes use fresh ingredients, no long lists of them either, and are mostly simple to prepare. At the front of each chapter are amusing and interesting observations combined with a practical introduction to the dishes.
This is a book that when I dip into it I am still enjoying an hour later, until hunger reminds me what I actually picked it up for. It is a book that I return to time and time again for inspiration, to cook from and just to read.
102 of 110 people found the following review helpful
on 25 October 2002
elizabeth david comes from another era. In the post war period food was for eating, there was no celebrity cooking, however the drought of rationing had been lifted,and she helped those who were interested discover fabulous ingredients from the meditteranean. This book along with An omlette and a glass of Wine will give anyone who wants to cook competently and honestly, a great grounding in good food, fairly easy techniques, the use of fresh ingredients and spectacular results,with amusing anecdotes to accompany the receipes, I wouldn't be without her in my kitchen, and having used everyone from Micheal Smith and The Galloping gourmet to jamie oliver, gorden ramsey and paul rankin, I still find myself cooking with elizabeth at least once a week. This is a wonderful version of her work I thoroughly recommend it and please remember you have to eat everyday to be healthy, so you might as well do it well and have some fun.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 3 January 2009
this is the best cookery book i have ever read, having been brought up on ready meals and fish and chips cooking was not something i excelled at. this book has turned me into a good home cook. one person even said that i had "a real skill in the kitchen". it is in fact not my ability but that of Elizabeth David. oh and my french friend who gave this book to me as a gift.Elizabeth David Classics: "Mediterranean Food", "French Country Cooking" and "Summer Cooking"
82 of 100 people found the following review helpful
on 12 December 2001
I am very fortunate to own one or two original books by this most famous of cooks.
Elizbeth David was the Delia of her day, and her recipes reflect an in-depth knowledge of food.
As a historian, she writes from her own research.
Elizabeth David's Classics first appeared in 1950 when almost every essential ingredient of good cooking was either rationed or unobtainable; to cook the simplest of meals required devotion and ingenuity.
Revised only a few years later, after rationing, and on the brink of a new renaissance of cookery in Britain, Elizabeth David's book of Mediterranean Food, French Country Cooking, and Summer Cooking was a best seller.
Ingredients such as Calamata olives, Tahina paste, Olive oil, stuffed vine leaves, and other Mediterranean delicacies made their way into the Delicatessens of Soho and Tottenham Court Road, much as Chorizo Sausage was in every branch of Sainsbury's after Delia Smith introduced it in her now famous "Basque Chicken" recipe.
Written a half centaury ago, this book was ahead of its time, we have only now begun to discover the exotic flavours of oil, saffron, olives, garlic, wild marjoram and basil, pungent pimentos, aubergines, figs and limes.
Top Chefs use Elizabeth David's work as their bible, their inspiration, and their teacher, she was unique among woman, and her work will live on in history.
In 1976 Elizabeth David was awarded the O.B.E. in 1977 she was made a chevalier of the French Ordre du Merite Agricole and in 1979 an honorary doctor of the University of Essex. In 1986 she was awarded a C.B.E.
Elizabeth died in 1992.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 7 August 2010
LONG SHELF LIFE
Elizabeth David - Summer Cooking.
We are truly blessed these days with a stunning array of seasonal cookery books. Seasonal eating, it could be said is the new Rock and Roll - at least if you are of a certain age that is.
Seriously though, to coin a foodie phrase, we can now cherry pick cookery books to reflect where we are in the eating calendar, and be delighted by the crop of a particular month, or the catch of the day.
As there is rarely anything new under the sun, it will come as no surprise that Elizabeth David's Summer Cooking has been gracing the kitchen bookshelf for a staggering fifty five years.
Writing against a back drop of post- war Britain, she was the prime innovator to broaden the palate of the British public. She persuaded them to use olive oil to cook rather than to syringe sore ears, and to venture to try the more exotic produce that inch by inch was moving towards the counters of the nation's shopkeepers.
In this book, she boldly challenges a country's appetite to educate it back to the delights of seasonal eating. Following the years of Austerity, housewives had become slaves to providing food for their tables, rather than relishing it. Deep freezing had made its way into domestic homes, and the frozen pea reigned supreme. Summer Cooking was a path to follow where eating food in season could once again be enjoyed.
This book is a winner in every way.. It is compact , and could even be slipped into the smallest of bag allowances for trips to far away destinations, should the fancy take you. It is quite a feat of paperback engineering too, housing in excess of a thousand recipes. When you consider that most newer generation cookbooks brag a modest hundred, it's incredible value for money despite its size.. Small truly is beautiful.
Quality, is where it stands alone though. Here is a book that is a standard bearer in terms of the narrative that precedes the recipes. It has no glossy photos, and relies entirely on its words to paint a mental image of each dish, coaxed into reality by its writer. It pays homage to fresh, seasonal food in a way that the British public had never seen before. If it's fresh, buy it, cook it, eat it. It's a simple as that.
As the selection of summer foods is so vast, it gave the reader of the time an alternative to the slavishly followed dictates of nineteen fifties' British cooking . She affirmed that is really was acceptable to have a crab and rice salad followed by summer pudding in place of roast beef, Yorkshire pudding and a lump of treacle tart. Yes it really was.
There is a vibrant offering inside to excite even the twenty first century palate: Picnic menus for all manner of occasions, holiday food for those with reduced cooking kit, buffets where food can be prepared well in advance, allowing the cook to join the assembled eaters, and so much more.
The summer staple of tuna makes an appearance, under the guise of tunny fish, and is an ingredient in the Italian classic Vitello Tonnato. In fact there is a strong Mediterranean theme throughout, allowing for the fact that many families would be now holidaying on the its coastline, and so could enjoy a wider, slightly exotic offer of fresh produce. When they returned, they would seek out ways to reproduce the recipes of the regions they visited. This book would provide them.
The recipes reflect the essence of the simplistic nature of eating in the hotter months. Food such as eggs, meat and fish can have a minimum of preparation and be enjoyed for their own sake, with a green salad and some good bread and wine. Tomato Omelette, Sole au Vert, and Spiced Grilled Chicken are fine examples of this principle. Vegetables offer all manner of suggestions, with the widest possible choice of fresh produce being available and in season. Peperonata and Courgettes au Jambon are just a few examples of the strong Mediterranean influences in David's writing. Summer fruits, notably the berries, are explored and turned into water ices, tarts and jellies, although she suggests that there is no finer summer dessert than a bowl of fresh fruit and cream. I tend to agree with her.
Should you choose to buy the book, the table of contents should really be carefully studied before it is truly explored, as it will reveal an undeniable fact: Her writings are the blueprints for pretty much every summer season cookbook that has followed on from that time. Yes, there may be twists and turns, huge colour photos and the extra sprig of coriander here and there, but they reflect, indeed celebrate that this modest book is the source of their inspiration.
My copy is part of a rare boxed set of her works, published by Penguin. No surprises here that half a century on, the same publisher is still producing it, and that Summer Cooking is stocked in pretty much every bookshop in the land. Few other cookbooks can claim that honour.
46 of 57 people found the following review helpful
on 17 January 2001
One book containing 3 of the most essential cookery books available today. Elizabeth David does not just deal out recipes, but information and tips as well. A God send for anybody wishing to improve their cooking.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 10 October 2011
Purchased this triple set for a friend, having used these books as a bible for the past 40 years. They are classical and also can be read like a novel!. ED has so many good classic receipes, all decent kitchen bookshelves should have a copy of at least one of her books.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 9 January 2012
I bought this book for my husband, as he is a keen cook. A friend who had just used it to cook a partridge recipe recommended it. It is full of classic/French recipes and is suitable for people who love to cook such food but who can cope without colour or picture illustrations. This book is for people who like to browse and read cookery books; who are not afraid of unusual terms and ingredients and enjoy the sections of advice such as "..Devote all the time and resources at your disposal to the building up of a fine kitchen. It will be, as it should be, the most comforting and comfortable room in the house". Using this recipe book should add to the enhancement of any kitchen, or rather, what comes out of it!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 10 April 2014
I really love Mediterannean food and I think Elizabeth David's books are great. The recipes are easy to follow. This is really three books in one, it contains a wealth of information and I often refer to it. Recommended.