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

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A Book of Mediterranean Food (New York Review Books Classics) + Italian Food (Penguin Classics) + French Provincial Cooking (Penguin Classics)
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Product Details

  • Series: New York Review Books Classics
  • Paperback: 222 pages
  • Publisher: New York Review Books; 2nd edition (April 30, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590170032
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590170038
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #308,407 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

These debuted in 1950 and 1955, respectively, thrusting the British-born David into the cooking limelight. She is credited with debunking a lot of myths involving foods and their preparation. These editions contain new forewords by Clarissa Dickson Wright, one of TV's famed Fat Ladies, who introduces the Mediterranean volume, and New Yorker columnist Molly O'Neill who offers her take on Summer Cooking. With the remarkable popularity of cooking shows, these might be more popular now.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

ELIZABETH DAVID (1913–1992) was brought up in an outwardly idyllic seventeenth-century Sussex farmhouse, Wootton Manor, and her interest in cooking may well have been a response to the less-than-stellar meals on offer there. During World War II she lived in France, Italy, Greece, and Egypt (where she worked for the Ministry of Information), and spent much of her time researching and cooking local fare. On her return to London in 1946 she began to write cooking articles, and in 1949 the publisher John Lehmann offered her a hundred-pound advance for A Book of Mediterranean Food. When it came out the following year, it proved a revelation to Anglo-Saxon appetites. David’s other books include Italian Food (1951) and Summer Cooking (1955; also published by NYRB Classics). She continued to be a student of her art throughout her life. Always an innovative force, she even persuaded Le Creuset to extend its range of cookware colors by pointing at a pack of Gauloises. "That’s the blue I want," she said. Elizabeth David was awarded a CBE, made a Chevalier de l’Ordre de Mérite Agricole, and—the honor that pleased her most—elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 26 people found the following review helpful By B. Marold HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on January 13, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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.
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Jay Dickson VINE VOICE on May 16, 2002
Format: Paperback
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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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By KH1 VINE VOICE on May 29, 2005
Format: Paperback
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.
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