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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