On Elizabeth David; Recipe Links 8-30-08

Last Sunday and today, I’ve enjoyed flipping through classic old Elizabeth David cookbooks over a cup of tea. She brought French and Mediterranean cooking to the Brits after World War II and has a wonderful, informal style (albeit a bit parsimonious with her words when describing recipes). She had a delightful habit of mercilessly chiding her countrymen and women for atrocious cooking habits (these books were written in the early 1950s).

Among other things, she rails against the obsession over the relatively new (at the time) “deep freeze” technology and the popularity of artificial flavourings at the expense of fresh, seasonal food. Given that I’m currently reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma (and San Francisco is currently hosting the Slow Food festival) the message reverberates. It is interesting to see how long it has taken for the pendulum to start swinging back to “natural” here in the US in a broad way. It takes a lot to get people to change, especially under the onslaught of marketing messages.

These two quotes caught my eye today from David’s cookbooks, and made me smile:

“Nobody has ever been able to find out why the English regard a glass of wine added to a soup or stew as a reckless foreign extravagance and at the same time spend pounds on bottled sauces, gravy powders, soup cuves, ketchups and artificial flavourings.” (she then has a footnote that details out the horrific ways some artificial flavourings are created — from French Country Cooking, pub 1951)

“How one learns to dread the season for salads in England. What becomes of the heart of the lettuce? What makes an English cook think that beetroot spreading its hideous purple dye over a sardine and a spoonful of tinned baked beans constitutes an hors d’oeuvre? Why make the cold salmon, woolly enough anyhow by mid-summer, look even less appetizing than it is by serving it on a bed of lettuce leaves apparently rescued from the dust bin? What is the object of spending so much money on cucumbers, tomatoes, and lettuces because of their valuable vitamins, and then drowning them in vinegar and chemical salad dressings?” (from Summer Cooking, pub 1955)

As Homer Simpson would say… “doh!”

Now on to recipe links! Here are some of the recipes I’ve seen from food bloggers over the last several weeks that caught my eye and I want to remember for a future day:

P.S. I might not make desserts (that’s Lisl’s territory), but all you Daring Bakers are sure making great-looking eclairs right now!

One thought on “On Elizabeth David; Recipe Links 8-30-08”

  1. It’s always funny when a British person makes fun of their own food culture… she does make some valid points 😉

    Hope you enjoy my recipe!

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