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A Book of Mediterranean Food [Paperback]

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Item Number 426438  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   203
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.5" Width: 5" Height: 8"
Weight:   0.6 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Apr 30, 2002
Publisher   NYRB Classics
ISBN  1590170032  
EAN  9781590170038  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Long acknowledged as the inspiration for such modern masters as Julia Child and Claudia Roden, A Book of Mediterranean Food is Elizabeth David's passionate mixture of recipes, culinary lore, and frank talk. In bleak postwar Great Britain, when basics were rationed and fresh food a fantasy, David set about to cheer herself --and her audience-- up with dishes from the south of France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, and the Middle East. Some are sumptuous, many are simple, most are sublime.

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More About Elizabeth David

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Elizabeth David (1913-1992) was one of the most successful food writers of the twentieth century. She discovered her taste for good food and wine when, as a student at the Sorbonne, she lived with a French family for two years. After returning to England she made up her mind to learn to cook, so that that she could reproduce for herself and her friends some of the food that she had come to appreciate in France. Subsequently she lived in France, Italy, Greece, Egypt and India, learning and writing about the local dishes and cooking them in her own kitchen. Her first book, Mediterranean Food, signalled the start of a dazzling writing career, and was followed by many others, now considered classics, such as French Country Cooking", "and Italian Food". "The publication of French Provincial Cooking in 1960 confirmed her position as the most inspirational and influential cookery writer in the English language, and she was the recipient of many awards.Elizabeth David was also interested in the literature of cookery, and at the time of her death she was working on a study of the use of ice, the ice-trade and the early days of refrigeration, published posthumously as Harvest of the Cold Months.

Elizabeth David lived in .. Elizabeth David was born in 1913 and died in 1992.

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Product Categories
1Books > Subjects > Cooking, Food & Wine > General   [7182  similar products]
2Books > Subjects > Cooking, Food & Wine > Regional & International > European > Mediterranean   [49  similar products]

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Great book!  Sep 8, 2005
I love Elizabeth David; I turn again and again to her books, as every dish I make seems to turn out fantastically!
A Classic  May 29, 2005
I agree with a previous reviewer that this is not the bast format for a cookbook. You cannot lay it open on the counter to glance at while you go about preparing a recipe. However, I feel that this book is less about recipes and more about technique. If you are the kind of person who enjoys reading cookbooks to learn new techniques to use in the kitchen, this book is very useful. If you want a book to prop up on the counter while you cook, it is not. I would also note that "A Book of Mediterrenean Food" is a good source of culinary history and an interesting read if you want to know more about where dishes have come from.
Many of the recipes are very simple, with few ingredients. Having read her recipe for Gazpacho, I can tell that it is wholely different than the Gazpacho that I am use to making - there is very little seasoning, and the recipe relies less on herbs and spices and more on the natural flavors of the ingredients - and to prepare Ms. David's recipe will require extremely fresh, high quality vegetables. This appears to be true of many of the recipes in this book.
I thoroughly enjoy Ms. David's writing. She is sharp and witty, even writing about something as mundane as soup. I am very happy that I purchased this book, and I'm sure that I will refer back to it for recipes and techniques for a long time.
Literate Fountainhead of Much Culinary Writing  Jan 13, 2004
This volume is one of the very few culinary titles published over fifty years ago, which is not only still in print, but still influencing how people think about food. To understand the importance of the book, it is more than usually important to place it in context, in the England of 1950 which was just coming out of six years of World War II followed by four years of rationing austerity, when a pound of butter was difficult to find and olive oil was sold by the pint in apothecaries `for external use only'.

Complimentary blurbs from Alice Waters can be found on many books nowadays, but this one I know is more heartfelt than usual. Based on Jeremiah Tower's recent memoir, I know David influenced both Waters and Tower. She was also a major influence on later writers on Mediterranean cuisine such as Claudia Roden and Paula Wolfert.

David's notion of Mediterranean cuisine is somewhat limited to the western and central European coasts of Spain, France, Italy, and Greece, even though David did live and work in Egypt during World War II. Even here, she seems to color outside the lines a bit, reaching as far north and west as Lyon and Bordeaux. There is little here from North Africa. There is not even a mention of couscous in the index. To remedy this deficiency, David refers us to Claudia Roden's excellent book on Near Eastern food.

I can imagine that the recipes, foodstuffs, and stories of the Mediterranean shores had much the same influence on post-war Londoners as Provence had on the painting of Cezanne. David's word pictures brought the bright light and blue seas into the London parlors and stirred an interest, which had been dormant for over 10 years. The evidence of this was that, against all expectations, the book sold very well in 1950 and it has been reissued with new introductions in 1958, 1065, 1988, and 2002, the last time with the Foreword by Clarissa Dickson Wright of `Two Fat Ladies' fame.

David's recipe writing is very much tied to her times and her English public school and university education. There is no hint of food processor or blender, let alone microwave. All purees are done with mortar and pestle. For those who are not familiar with this venerable tool, let me assure you that with little effort, if will often give equal or better results than the electric gizmos of today, especially with classics such as aioli and pesto. Just check out the pleasure Jamie Oliver shows in using it. The style of recipe writing may also be unfamiliar. David is assuming that the reader is a knowledgeable cook. She takes for granted, for example, that you know how to peel tomatoes and cook potatoes for salads or puree. Most directions are spare. Ms. Wright testifies that she often uses them as reminders of how to write a concise recipe.

The names of things may also be unfamiliar. Eggplants are called aubergines and porcini mushrooms are called cepes. These were not hard, but the reference to marrows (courgettes) sent be scurrying to the Larousse Gastronomique. They are zucchini. Many dish names are given in their untranslated French, Italian, Spanish, or Greek. Some other familiar dishes are given unfamiliar names. What I know as the Roman specialty saltimbocca is named `Norman's Recipe'.

The text is a joy to read. It is sprinkled with culinary quotes from a great many literary sources. In Alice Waters words `Her words reach all my senses. The life around the table, the setting, the conversation - not just the food - are all part of her inimitable aesthetic.'

This book can be read on at many different levels.

First, it can be taken as simply a book of recipes, but if that were all there was, the book would not have survived as long as it has.

Second, it can be read as a culinary travelogue to spark one's imagination. The section on Spanish rice dishes is a good example of just enough to get you interested, without being so thin as to gloss over important issues. (One of my few complaints with the book is that for Italian rice dishes, the book simply specifies `Italian' rice. As we all know after hundreds of hours of risottos on the Food Network, the Italian arborio rice is good, but the Italian rice carnaroli is better.)

Third, it can be a source of forgotten facts about some common dishes. I was surprised, for example, to find the recipe for aioli to include bread crumbs. Who knew!

Lastly, the book can be read as a historical document, the first book by someone who will come to influence a generation of culinary writers. I suspect David's later books on French and Italian cuisines had more material to inspire professional chefs like Alice Waters, but it all started here.

Not the best format for a cookbook  May 16, 2002
The charming little format that makes the NYRB Classics series work so well for novels and memoirs actually works against this classic cookbook. The pages are so small and tightly bound that it's practically impossible to open this little paperback book open and cook from it: moreover, the publishers seemed to use a slightly different typeface for every single different preface David wrote for different editions of this book (all collected here) as well as for Wright's new foreword, which creates something of a headache.

The book in and of itself is something of a marvel, though. Elizabeth David was one of the first British or American writers to popularize Mediterranean cooking at mid-century, and this, the first of her cookbooks, is a true classic: superbly written, it will leave you hungry to sample the dishes she describes and recommends.


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