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From The CriticsNot as well-known in this country as her American counterpart M.F.K. Fisher, Elizabeth David changed the way post-war Britain thought about food and prepared it. A Book of Mediterranean Food, her first cookbook published after an intense period of rationing and shortages, brought a sunnier world of ingredients like olive oil, eggplant, garlic, basil and crusty bread to a people just beginning to dream about travel and the pleasures of the table. That 75 cent Penguin paperback was followed by French Country Cooking and Italian Food. These books and the six more that she wrote until her death in 1992 were essays on food and not simply formulas for dishes or elaborate instructions for creating approximations of food served in expensive restaurants. Rather, David's books were about how people ate, the background of many dishes and an explanation of the concept of what the cook is about to prepare.
This volume is a reconfiguration of many of her recipes and excerpts from her most provocative essays. Selections and recollections offered by her family and friends, admirers and advocates make this a personal tribute both to the woman who restored morale to a war-weary nation by reminding them that only a few miles away lemon trees blossomed, and to a writer who inevitably assumed curiosity and intelligence on the part of her readers. Add to this her stunning genius for writing and the reader will conclude with cookbook writer Richard Olney in his introduction that the best of David is Elizabeth herself.