Author(s): Elizabeth David
Elizabeth David's books belong in the libraries of everyone who loves to read and prepare food and this one is generally regarded as her best; her passion and knowledge comes through on every page. She was one of the foremost writers on food in the latter half of the 20th century and this book has her most celebrated writing. "French Provincial Cooking" should be approached and read as a series of short stories, as well written and evocative as the best literature. The voice is highly personal and opinionated, sometimes sharp but always true and always entertaining. Here is a long essay on French cuisine, offering background stories and sketches of recipes more than the slavishly didactic type of recipes that most modern readers might be used to today. For many Elizabeth David was the first to introduce us to the French notion of la cuisine terroir, sometimes interpreted as 'what grows together goes together'. For David, this is the heart of regional cooking, and the thing which most distinguishes it from cooking in haute cuisine restaurants where diners arrive at any time or any season and expect to be able to order any well known French speciality.
Elizabeth David lived and kept house in France, Italy, Greece, Egypt and India, learning the local dishes and cooking them in her own kitchens. Her first book, Mediterranean Food, appeared in 1950. In 1951 French Country Cooking was published and in 1954, after a year of research in Italy, Italian Food. This was followed by Summer Cooking (1955), French Provincial Cooking (1960) and Spices, Salt and Aromatics in the English Kitchen (1970). In 1973 Mrs David severed all connection with the business trading under her name and concentrated on study and experiment for English Bread and Yeast Cookery, for which she won the 1977 Glenfiddich Writer of the Year Award. An Omelette and a Glass of Wine, a selection of her journalistic work, was published in 1984 and Harvest of the Cold Months, her book on the use of ice and the making of ices was edited by Jill Norman and published posthumously in 1994. She was honoured with many prizes, made Chevalier de l'Ordre du Merite Agricole by the French in 1977, awarded the OBE in 1976 and the CBE in 1986. Honorary doctorates were conferred on her by the universities of Essex and Bristol. In 1982 she was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. She died on 22 May 1992.