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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Elizabeth David was one of the 20th century's most influential writers about food. With her no-nonsense approach to cooking and her insistence on fresh ingredients and authentic recipes, she influenced generations of cooks, including Alice Waters and Diana Kennedy.
This sequel to An Omelet and a Glass of Wine features essays and reviews on practical cooking that have not appeared in previous collections, along with 150 recipes. If you haven't discovered the work of the late Elizabeth David yet, you'll find this collection a very tasty introduction. If you already know and love her work, you'll be very thankful to have one more book.
Whether David is writing about Mediterranean food, which she loves, or a classic English dish like raspberry cream, you can count on her for a perfect-pitch approach to the recipe. She writes beautifully, and she's funny, too. Here she is complaining about the mania of the French for packing olives with herbes de Provence: "It's quite difficult to overpower the flavour of those little black olives, but rosemary does the trick. Sure, rosemary is for remembrance. I'd just rather it weren't for the remembrance of those little spiky leaves stuck in my throat."
Is There a Nutmeg in the House? contains charming essays on David's likes and dislikes, including tirades against the bouillon cube and the "utterly useless" garlic press, a lovely piece on her "dream kitchen," and many ice cream recipes, initially prepared for Harvest of the Cold Month but ultimately not used in that book. Some of the essays reflect David's keen interest in early cookery books; "Relishes of the Renaissance," with recipes adapted from an Italian cookery book published in 1570, is one good example.
James Beard once wrote about David: "She is to me probably the greatest food writer we have, a purist and a perfectionist, intolerant of mediocrity and totally honest, yet not above breaking with tradition to get at what she feels is the essential nature of a dish.... She may throw you a bit at first because she does not write a recipe in the detailed, spelled-out style to which we are accustomed. Instead she gives her readers just as much guidance as she feels is necessary, regarding them not as children to be led by the hand but intelligent cooks capable of figuring things out for themselves." (Ginger Curwen)