French Country Cooking.
Decorated by John Minton.London: John Lehmann Ltd, 1951 Stock Code: 146903
First edition, first impression, an unusually nice copy of the author's landmark second book, written while post-war rationing was still in force, with an attractive souvenir of one of her circuits gastronomiques: it includes, loosely inserted, David's own Michelin map of Lyon, annotated "1965 ED" on the front cover.
Elizabeth David (1913-1992) visited Lyon a number of times in the 1950s, and the city became an important influence on her cooking: her recipe for "le poulet à la crème" in the present volume was "given by Madame Brazier, of the Restaurant Brazier, one of the most famous restaurants in Lyon" (p. 137). Later, in 1957, David embarked on a research trip through France "into Lorraine and down through Burgundy, and so to Lyon" where "she ate some of the best fish dishes she had ever tasted" (Cooper, p. 36).
David had taught herself Mediterranean-style cooking while living abroad during the early 1940s, and began writing a food column for Harper's Bazaar in 1949. Her first book, A Book of Mediterranean Food, was published to wide acclaim the following year, and she is now recognised for her profound influence on British culinary culture.
"David was the best writer on food and drink this country has ever produced. When she began writing in the 1950s, the British scarcely noticed what was on their plates at all, which was perhaps just as well. Her books and articles persuaded her readers that food was one of life's great pleasures, and that cooking should not be a drudgery but an exciting and creative act. In doing so she inspired a whole generation not only to cook, but to think about food in an entirely different way" (ODNB).
Octavo. Original grey cloth, spine lettered in gilt on brown background, errata slip to p. xi. With the dust jacket, designed by Minton. Together with Elizabeth David's copy of a map of Lyon.
Frontispiece, title vignette, and illustrations to the text, all by Minton.
A very good copy indeed, sharp and bright, light foxing to edges and margins, in a lovely example of the dust jacket, not price-clipped, couple of nicks to head of spine panel, and notably bright.
Artemis Cooper, Writing at the Kitchen Table: The Authorized Biography of Elizabeth David, 2011.
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