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3.9 out of 5 stars
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3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 13 December 1999
Where to shelve the Elizabeth David is a dilemma for most foodies. Literature? History? Travel? maybe even - for the true believer - Theology? The appeal of her books has never really been the recipes themselves but her talent for conveying the sheer sensuousness of food. What slave to the supermarket wouldn't be captivated by the thought of picking their way through piles of yellow peppers in the markets of Capri? or discovering the perfect tart aux mirabelles in that little pastry shop in the Dordogne? But while we are never in any doubt about Ms David's feelings for packet sauce she is much less forthcoming about herself. "All there is to know about me is in my books" she said, and to a degree she's right; the autocratic tone, the advice to always keep a careful eye on the butcher, the occasional "we" and the ever present glass of wine do provide clues. For those left wanting more Lisa Chaney's biography tells almost all. While Chaney is admirably restrained, writing in reverent "not one to gossip" tones, she does allow her extensive range of interviewees to dish the dirt. "Intolerant", "wilful", "rude", "self centred", "a terrible handful", "very grande dame", "acerbic", "litigious", "tetchy" and "possessing an excess of fury" are just a small selection of the terms applied to Elizabeth - often by people described as friends. While many won't be too appalled by the bitchiness, booze and bad boys there is something profoundly shocking in Ms David's fondness for - gasp! - Nescafe!
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 23 December 2015
Elizabeth David is my cooking hero. Great recipes and words from a special person. Not a celebrity chef, just a great and knowledgeable cook and writer. Her recipes are timeless and so well researched.
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on 25 January 1999
This is a fascinating book about a fascinating and often complex character. Although Elizabeth David spent time in France as a child her discovery of food was the result her travels before and during the second world war. David's books have always seemed to me to be almost classic travel writing. Here we see that she develope her interests as she travelled. He approach to food was determined primarily by the people she was with at various times in her life. As her reputation grew we see her becoming more authorative about the history and philosophy of food. Earlier it seemed that her talent was as a writer - she happened to write about food, But later she amassed a huge library of books on food - her collection is still to be fully catalogued and listed. In particular, she had the insight to explore our own food traditions, receiving criticism from those who thought she should stick to the food of southern europe. Perhaps she paved the way for today's chefs who firmly root their work in a British tradition. She was an eccentric and passionate woman and what comes out most strongly in this biography is her fascination for people and friends, really her top priority. The Elizabeth David Kitchen Store business ended in accrimony mainly because, for Elizabeth, it was a centre for engaging with friends rather tnan being the focus of a business. Anyone interested in food should read this, You won't be disappointed. Lisa Chaney has written a fascinating book in which you share much of Elizabeth David's journey of culinary discovery.
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on 24 February 1999
This book is a wonderfully detailed account of a fascinating complex figure and her life-it lacks the seductive prose of its subject, alas, and although the photographs are excellent, one wishes for more-of her house and of her marvelous kitchens.
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on 4 April 2009
I am a great fan of Elisabeth David. I own most of the books, she has written and have learned a lot about cooking from her. Her recipes give the food the authentic flavour of the food of the counties they are from.
The biography has made me understood a lot about the woman whose skills as a writer and cook has been such a joy to me. The book loyal to Elisabeth David, is entertaining and well written.
It is also a well designed book.
I have given it to my daughter, who has read it and enjoyed it.
I can add, that I have met Elisabeth David when she attended a food arrangement in Forum in Copenhagen, where I went to thank her. And I have visited her shop in London, which, alas is not there anymore.
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on 16 June 1999
An astonishing life uncritically reviewed, by a fan with a habit of making unsupported statements. Lisa Chaney breathlessly attributes undeserved virtues and skills to the subject. As a piece of social documentary it deserves a permanent place in the history section instead. Lisa Chaney told me things about my own country's history, its attitudes to food and friendship and sex in the 30's and 40's that I had read nowhere else, but the author is too often starry eyed about a rude and demanding person to win more review crowns though.
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on 13 September 2014
Very thoughtful and comprehensive biography, I think E.D. would have approved.
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on 25 February 2015
As a housewife of the 50''s I used David's-cookbooks and I bought this one out of nostalgia How advanced she was if her times. An excellent buy.
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on 23 December 2011
Writng lacks style is overlong with too much padding and is more about the books than about the person. Needs severe editing and more information about Elizabeths private life.
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on 8 May 2015
Not as pleased as I thought I would be.
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