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Swaying at the Stove

Rosemary Hill: The Cult of Elizabeth David, 9 December 1999

Elizabeth DavidA Biography 
by Lisa Chaney.
Pan, 482 pp., £10, September 1999, 0 330 36762 5
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Waiting at the Kitchen Table. Elizabeth DavidThe Authorised Biography 
by Artemis Cooper.
Viking, 364 pp., £20, November 1999, 0 7181 4224 1
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... When Elizabeth David’s A Book of Mediterranean Food appeared in 1950, many of the ingredients it called for were unobtainable. But even after meat came off the ration, few people can have had much practical need for a traditional Turkish recipe for stuffing a whole sheep. That was not the point. Saturated with description, of figs and aubergines, of fishing boats at anchor in Marseille and paella pans left out to dry in Spanish courtyards, Mediterranean Food brought a beakerful of the warm South to chilly, postwar England ...

Noovs’ hoovs in the trough

Angela Carter, 24 January 1985

The Official Foodie Handbook 
by Ann Barr and Paul Levy.
Ebury, 144 pp., £8.95, October 1984, 0 85223 348 5
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An Omelette and a Glass of Wine 
by Elizabeth David.
Hale, 318 pp., £9.95, October 1984, 0 7090 2047 3
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Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook 
by Alice Waters, foreword by Jane Grigson .
Chatto, 340 pp., £12.95, March 1984, 0 7011 2820 8
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... scant half-crust. (‘That bread alone was worth the journey,’ they probably remark, just as Elizabeth David says of a trip to an out-of-the-way eatery in France.) Art has a morality of its own, and the aesthetics of cooking and eating aspire, in ‘foodism’, towards the heights of food-for-food’s sake. Therefore the Third World can go suck its ...

Greens

E.S. Turner, 3 July 1980

Friends of the Earth Cookbook 
by Veronica Sekules.
Penguin, 192 pp., £1.95, April 1980, 9780140463026
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Hedgerow Cookery 
by Rosamond Richardson.
Penguin, 250 pp., £1.95, April 1980, 0 14 046358 5
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Jane Grigson’s Cookery Book 
by Jane Grigson.
Penguin, 606 pp., £2.50, April 1980, 0 14 046352 6
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Cooking with Vegetables 
by Marika Hanbury Tenison.
Cape, 284 pp., £9.50, May 1980, 0 224 01597 4
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The Home Gardener’s Cookbook 
by Clare Walker.
Penguin, 362 pp., £1.75, April 1980, 0 14 046353 4
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Natural Baby Food 
by Anna Haycraft.
Fontana, 123 pp., £1, April 1980, 9780006358565
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... the period after the Second World War.’ She gives much of the credit for this shift in taste to Elizabeth David, who in the 1950s preached that the fruits of the earth were more than mere adjuncts to flesh. Now the high price of meat is doing Mrs David’s work for her. The campaign has been waged mostly by ...

Wolfing it

Angela Carter, 23 July 1987

Honey from a Weed: Fasting and Feasting in Tuscany, Catalonia, the Cyclades and Apulia 
by Patience Gray.
Prospect, 374 pp., £17.50, November 1986, 0 907325 30 0
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A Table in Provence: Classic Recipes from the South of France 
collected and illustrated by Leslie Forbes.
Webb and Bower/Joseph, 160 pp., £12.95, April 1987, 0 86350 130 3
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The Joyce of Cooking: Food and Drink from James Joyce’s Dublin 
by Alison Armstrong, foreword by Anthony Burgess.
Station Hill Press, 252 pp., $18.95, December 1986, 0 930794 85 0
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... novel in the US years before the Penguin school of cookery writers found its greatest star in Elizabeth David in the late Fifties and early Sixties. For these writers, and for Patience Gray, cookery is what the open road was to Cobbett or the natural history of Selbourne to Gilbert White. There is, however, a difference: these are women to whom food ...

Strange Fruit

Francis Spufford, 5 February 1987

The Garden of Eden 
by Ernest Hemingway.
Hamish Hamilton, 247 pp., £9.95, February 1987, 0 241 11998 7
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... as a food writer? Not me, at any rate. The Garden of Eden is studded with provincial delicacies Elizabeth David would be proud of (‘jamon serrano, a smoky, hard-cured ham from pigs that fed on acorns’) and dramatic narratives of eating and drinking that might please M.F.K. Fisher. The book is a sort of domestic novel, a portrait of amour fou and ...

The Only Way

Sam Kinchin-Smith: Culinary Mansplaining, 4 January 2018

... for, that I wondered if the whole thing was an elaborate joke I’d missed. Meades’s take on an Elizabeth David recipe for sauce au vin du Médoc, which David credited to ‘Madame Bernard, the wife of a wine-grower of Cissac-Médoc’ (Meades wonders whether David ‘emulated ...

Snob Cuts

Rosemary Hill: Modern Snobbery, 3 November 2016

... as well as the menu. An appearance of effortless sophistication is the middle-class ideal. Elizabeth David not only brightened postwar Britain with the flavours of the Mediterranean, she wrote in a way that reassured the large number of women and some men who were learning to cook for themselves that there was nothing demeaning about it. Her books ...

Not Pleasing the Tidy-Minded

Ross McKibbin: Postwar Britain, 24 April 2008

Austerity Britain, 1945-51 
by David Kynaston.
Bloomsbury, 692 pp., £25, May 2007, 978 0 7475 7985 4
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... British children had been reduced. These memories were refreshed by reading Austerity Britain, David Kynaston’s huge history of the country between 1945 and 1951. It is difficult for anyone familiar only with the shimmering prosperity of contemporary Western Europe to realise just what it was like in the years immediately after the Second World War. In ...

Potatoes and Point

Angela Carter, 22 May 1986

The History and Social Influence of the Potato 
by Redcliffe Salaman, edited by J.G. Hawkes.
Cambridge, 729 pp., £35, November 1985, 0 521 07783 4
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... good for them, that potatoes were not sufficient fare. In an article in the current Tatler, Mrs Elizabeth David laments that Salaman did not include recipes: in fact, he includes several. This is one, for the soup served in Epping Workhouse in the last years of the 18th century: ‘4 lbs pickled pork, 6 stones of shins and legs, 6 lbs of skibling (meat ...

Flower Power

P.N. Furbank: Jocelyn Brooke, 8 May 2003

'The Military Orchid’ and Other Novels 
by Jocelyn Brooke.
Penguin, 437 pp., £10.99, August 2002, 0 14 118713 1
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... of garlic, and John Minton’s seductive, and faintly Post-Impressionist, illustrations to Elizabeth David. Brooke, after the war, heads for the Mediterranean as fast as he possibly can, but, being Brooke, he is already deeply nostalgic for his Army days there and strives to reanimate certain epiphanic moments – with no success whatever. In his ...

Diary

Jenny Diski: The Je Ne Sais Quoi, 15 December 2005

... of something horrible that was sticking to them. A spectacular daube at a dinner party, recipe by Elizabeth David but with a freehand addition by the cook, had it – lips this time pursed, thumb and forefinger connected to indicate perfection. A work of art, of course, had a je ne sais quoi, spoken with wide eyes and lips apart to perform a look of ...

A Serious Table

Christopher Driver, 2 September 1982

Simple French Food 
by Richard Olney.
Jill Norman and Hobhouse, 339 pp., £7.95, October 1981, 0 906908 22 1
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Living off nature 
by Judy Urquhart.
Penguin, 396 pp., £5.95, May 1982, 0 14 005107 4
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The Food and Cooking of Russia 
by Lesley Chamberlain.
Allen Lane, 330 pp., £9.95, June 1982, 0 7139 1468 8
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Food, Wine and Friends 
by Robert Carrier.
Sphere, 197 pp., £6.95, October 1981, 0 7221 2295 0
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The Colour Book of Fast Food 
edited by Alison Kerr.
Octopus, 77 pp., £1.99, June 1981, 0 7064 1510 8
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... breath that in a family follows the departure of a particularly tiresome and exacting house guest. Elizabeth David herself – a veteran by marriage of wartime Cairo and pre-Independence Delhi – advised her readers thirty years ago: ‘Devote all the time and resources at your disposal to the building up of a fine kitchen. It will be, as it should ...

Like a Dog

Elizabeth Lowry: J.M. Coetzee, 14 October 1999

Disgrace 
by J.M. Coetzee.
Secker, 220 pp., £14.99, July 1999, 0 436 20489 4
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The Lives of Animals 
by J.M. Coetzee.
Princeton, 127 pp., £12.50, May 1999, 0 691 00443 9
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... In J.M. Coetzee’s new novel, Disgrace, which is set in a violent post-apartheid South Africa, David Lurie, a Cape Town academic, reaches a similar conclusion when his daughter Lucy is gang-raped by three black men at her isolated homestead in the Eastern Cape. ‘But why did they hate me so?’ Lucy asks. ‘I had never set eyes on them.’ ‘It was ...

Sir Jim

Reyner Banham, 22 May 1980

Memoirs of an Unjust Fella: An Autobiography 
by J.M. Richards.
Weidenfeld, 279 pp., £10, March 1980, 9780297777670
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... entries, of which three-quarters are people, from Aalto to Zuckermann, taking in Fidel Castro, Elizabeth David, Erskine Childers, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, Robert Byron, Lawrence Durrell, Le Corbusier, Malcolm MacDonald, Tambimuttu ... and Donald Maclean. It is completely typical of the whole book that Maclean (whom he knew at school at Gresham’s) is ...

Diary

Susannah Clapp: On Angela Carter, 12 March 1992

... scant half-crust. (“That bread alone was worth the journey,” they probably remark, just as Elizabeth David says of a trip to an out-of-the-way eatery in France.)’ This provoked disdain and wrath on the Letters page, and a response from Angela in the shape of a postcard from Austin, Texas. On the front was a picture of a violently steaming ...

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