by Elizabeth David
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This collection of articles covers 30+ years of the writing of British food writer Elizabeth David. The pieces cover a wide range of food and drink and are informative, opinionated, and here and there a bit dated. There is still a lot to appreciate here, however. The historical pieces, on syllabubs for example, are fascinating and the travel journal elements of the pieces are quite entertaining. David's concern for weird foods from tins replacing fresh ingredients comes up a lot and that, along with the huge number of courses she is served, puts the pieces clearly into their culinary time.
Several of the pieces are book reviews and there is nothing as scathing as a negative review from Elizabeth David. Here is an example from her review (written in 1957) of Pot Luck Cookery by Beverly Pepper:
"And if a reputable firm of publishers can confidently put out a book purporting to be one of technical instruction (which is, after all, what a cookery book is supposed to be) so totally unrelated to life as it is lived in these islands that it might as well be written in Swahili, hideously produced into the bargain, and at the fancy price of eighteen shillings, then the publishing business can hardly be as pushed as it's always making out. Myself, I'd prefer to spend my eighteen shillings on food. I wouldn't care to face a roomful of hungry guests with nothing in the house but Pantry shelf fishbits. They might cut up rough. And I don't know whether, in such an event, one would be entitled to send the bill for damages to the publishers." (p. 158)Overall this is a charming taste of the work of one of history's great food writers. This book counts toward the Foodies Read 2014 Challenge and is one of the books on my 2014 TBR Pile Challenge list.