I just bought a new copy of this book, it's years since I lost my mum's copy and I'd forgotten how wonderful it is. It seems to me that if this small book were introduced today with all the bells and whistles that go with fashion cookbooks it wouldn't be a small book, but a whole series of volumes. The recipes and text are incredibly interesting, it's a joy to explore. I've bought lots of cookbooks and keep them on the shelf only to use only a handful of recipes, now I'm reading this book it's like finding a little pearl. It's bone dry, no photos of ingredients or work in progress, just a few line drawings. It's slow food, even better if you're good with listening to the radio whilst you cook, but not so good if you like books that follow tv shows or give time-saving keep it simple ideas.
A very rewarding book up there with Elizabeth David. Many traditional methods explained (salting beef, meat cures etc) and plenty of British and continental recipes included. Interesting to see what was not readily available in the '70s that we take for granted now. Many ingredients had to be obtained from specialist shops.
I bought this book because I wanted to know how to salt beef, and I was not disappointed. Perfect. boiled beef and carrots. I was pleasantly surprised to find that contrary to other cookery books the chapters are broken down into MEATS: sub-divided into beef, pork, venison, poultry, fish; etc., VEGETABLES: sub-divided into potatoes, courgettes, carrots, etc., DESSERTS: peaches, apple, blackcurrants, etc., so it makes it easy to find a recipes for an individual product and gives a selection of recipes using the this. So when you have a glut of, say courgettes or carrots from the garden, it is a simple matter of looking in the Vegetable chapter to find the appropriate vegetable, where there are several recipes for this particular product. This helps the modern conception that to eat seasonally produced food is good for you, and cheaper to buy, and will certainly be fresh and full of flavour.
I really like Jane Grigson cook books and bought this hardback edition to replace my very dog-eared original paperback. I was a bit disappointed because it looks a bit bland and doesn't quite have the charm of the original edition that I owned, with little drawings. However the gist of the book is the recipes and they are unchanged.
It is a little dated now as many of the ingredients which were unusual or little used are now in every supermarket. However the methods and interesting writing are much better than many modern offerings.
I use this book all the time. As the title will tell you, it's not intended as an encyclopaedic review of a particular subject like many of JG's later works (The Fish Book, and the wonderful The Vegetable Book), but it is aimed at celebrating the diversity of particular ingredients which have under-exploited qualities that repay thought and love. Chapter titles include: Kippers and Other Cured Fish, Meat Pies, Sweet Carrots, Parsley, Gooseberries, Apple and Quince, Five French Cakes.
The recipes are of international origin (though grounded in British and French cookery) and all aimed at family cooking, though this doesn't mean they are in any way reduced in elegance. JG's style is friendly, informative and informal, gently guiding you so that you get it right, with her own very special knack for concise instructions that precisely and exactly describe what is going on. You immediately understand the point of a recipe, and how to get there. The book also contains the first version of JG's famous curried parsnip soup.
This edition is a lovely one, as are all of Grub Street's hardback reissues of classic volumes in facsimilie of the original typesettings and illustrations. It, like the others in the series, is chunky, robust, made from good quality paper and crisply printed. It is easy to use and hollandaise sauce can be wiped off the pages, if this is done rapidly!
A modern classic from one of the great 20th century cookery writers.