Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Ecco (March 1, 2011)
Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 1.5 x 10 inches
Shipping Weight: 3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
Best Sellers Rank: #109,064 in Books (See Top 100 in Books) #30 in Books > Cookbooks, Food & Wine > Regional & International > European > English, Scottish & Welsh
Olive oil --- available in drug stores (because it was used only to treat ear infections).Garlic, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese --- unknown and unavailable.Eggs, butter, olives, tomatoes --- scarce.That was England in the years after World War II.(And you wonder why there are jokes about English food.)Elizabeth David changed all that. She pushed simple French and Italian recipes into the consciousness of English housewives. In short order, groceries started stocking ingredients she championed. Soon enough, you could even find zucchini in English supermarkets.Elizabeth David was --- almost all the pros say this --- the most important food writer of the last century.Don't know her? There are reasons. She died in 1992, just as chefs and cookbook writers were becoming celebrities. As a result, though her books were always available, her contribution to our daily meals --- what she described as "simpler food, simply presented" --- has been obscured by those who stand tall because they're climbed onto her shoulders.Like Alice Waters, of Chez Panisse: "When I go back and read her books now, I feel I plagiarized them. All of it seeped in so much, it's embarrassing to read them now."More reasons: Elizabeth David was an extremely difficult personality. She was an exacting writer when it came to prose, a little vague when it came to measuring ingredients. She had no patience for dullness or stupidity, and could be a withering conversationalist. And though she wanted her books to be important, she had little desire to be a public figure.Also, she had a complicated and busy personal life: husbands, lovers, travel.
Even many who know of MFK Fisher do not know Elizabeth David. She attempted to change the English world of cooking and did draw British cooks into more diverse fare. She almost single handily brought about what became the Real Bread Campaign. This book presents an excellent selection of both her writings and her recipes. There is an introduction to each section of recipes and her writings include such subjects as; fresh herbs, the markets of France, her dream kitchen, the baking of an English loaf.There is a preface by Ruth Reichl which demonstrates David's effect on many who were learning to cook. It would have been of added interest if she would have included the dates when this happened; she does mention she was 16, but it would give a better idea of what was going on in the world within her preface.Many recipes have pictures, however, some are the food before it is cooked or in its raw state, such as quails hanging rather than the finished dish. Most recipes are not that complicated, especially for an experienced cook. They include; starters and light dishes, soups, eggs, pasta, vegetables, rice, fish, shellfish and crustacea, meat, poultry and game birds, sauces, sweet dishes and cakes, bread and yeast baking.Be aware that many recipes are written in narrative style, with the ingredients highlighted slightly in different coloured ink. Even those recipes with a list before instructions, have the ingredients written out in sentence form. This fashion of listing ingredients can be a bit irksome.Elizabeth David is a cook that many have enjoyed reading and her recipes have much leeway in them since she had the philosophy that her recipes were only suggestions and you can be free to substitute.
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