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A Book of Mediterranean Food (New York Review Books Classics) Paperback – April 30, 2002
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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.Read more ›
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.
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.