Years ago Cath told me how she'd devoured Elizabeth David one holiday and I remember thinking, later, how I longed to feel that way about a serious cook's cook, felt disappointed that I somehow hadn't quite got David, having started French Provincial Cooking on four separate occasions and put it back each time. It didn't speak a food language I was familiar with, but the seed of something, in that conversation, was sown. We agreed more David was needed on the shelves but never got around to ordering any. Good bookshops are like that. Busy busy.
These days David is totally my cup of tea, a beautiful writer full-stop, just the kind of food writing I crave. I particularly like that she's actually a bit of a nutter, a very scholarly one mind you, drawn to ranting about the impracticality of brightly coloured porcelain, making bold statements about taste, but with a definite, slightly nutty edge. Most super-smart folk are thus cut in my experience. That fine line between genius and mad.
Dreaming of warmer days, I ordered a copy of her 1955 classic Summer Cooking recently. This, from the chapter titled "Improvised Cooking For Holidays and Week-Ends", is pure E.D. gold:
The kitchens of holiday houses, whether cramped and larderless, or vast, bare, with a day's march between sink and stove, usually have a stony bleakness in common. However adequate the beds or satisfactory the view, the kitchen equipment will probably consist of a tin frying pan, a chipped enamel saucepan, one Pyrex casserole without a lid, and a rusty knife with a loose handle.
She then goes on to suggest some surprisingly practical solutions. Highly recommended.