For my birthday my Mom gave me her cherished copy of Elizabeth David’s French Provincial Cooking (first published in 1960). The name Elizabeth David holds a sort of royal or magical air to it for me, as my Mom has been quoting her with awe and gratitude since I was born. My mother believes that the discovery of Elizabeth David forms the corner stone of her cookery evolution.
She has a writing style which is so expressive, evocative and personal. She doesn’t just write recipes, she shares impressions, stories, experiences, anecdotes and wonderful quotes from other admired authors. She is the quintessential food writer and is hailed by many to be one of the main contributors to the food revolution in Great Britain.
Her book on French provincial cooking is very personal as a lot of what she shares in this book are stories of self discovery and how she came to love cooking. I want to share a quote from the first page of the introduction which for me is what cooking should be all about.
“The dishes described are not spectacular, rich, or highly flavoured, the materials are the modest ingredients you would expect to find in a country garden, a small farm, or in a market of a quiet provincial town. But it is not rustic peasant cooking, for the directions for the blending of different vegetables in a soup, the quantity of wine in a stew, or the seasoning of the sauce for a chicken reflect great care and regard for the harmony of the finished dish. This is sober, well-balanced, middle class French cookery, carried out with care and skill, with due regard to the quality of the materials, but without extravagance or pretention.”