LIFE IS A JOURNEY, ARE YOU READY?

AN ITALIAN ROADTRIP : THE BOOK WE READ AND COOKED WITH ON OUR TRIP, LOVING ELIZABETH DAVID

Firstly, we do not believe in reading fiction on trips. You are in a magnificent place with much atmosphere to absorb. The last thing we want is to cut that out of our minds and start imagining something not in our reality in the moment. We ordered this book online. Luckily, it arrived on time for our roadtrip. It is by our favorite cookbook writer, Elizabeth David. People love to buy cookbooks with pictures, but not us. David writes about food like a poet, and combines it with history and the lyrical flow of her prose. Her words come to life, and yes, you will feel the hunger pangs even without pictures. You think Nigella is sexy and can cook, that is because you do not know Elizabeth David.

This woman knew her stuff.

Elizabeth David CBE (26 December 1913 – 22 May 1992) was a pre-eminent British cookery writer of the mid 20th century.

David is considered responsible for bringing French and Italian olive oil and the courgette). In a Britain worn down by post-war rationing and dull food, she celebrated regional and rural Mediterranean dishes rather than the fussier food of the gourmands and aristocrats. David's style is characterised by terse descriptions of the recipes themselves, accompanied by detailed descriptions of their context and historical background, and often laced with anecdotal asides. Her criticism of bad food, including much of the food of England that she and her readers had grown up with, was often scathing.

On her return to London in 1946, David began to write articles on cooking, and in 1949 the publisher John Lehmann offered her a £100 advance for Mediterranean Food, the start of her writing career. David spent eight months researching Italian food in Venice, Tuscany and Capri. This resulted in Italian Food in 1954, with illustrations by Renato Guttuso, which was famously described by Evelyn Waugh in The Sunday Times as one of the two books which had given him the most pleasure that year.

Many of the ingredients were unavailable in England when the books were first published, as shortages and rationing continued for many years after the end of the war, and David had to suggest looking for olive oil in pharmacies where it was sold for treating earache.[citation needed] Within a decade, ingredients such as aubergines, saffron and pasta began to appear more widely in shops, thanks in no small part to David's books.[citation needed] David gained fame, respect and high status and advised many chefs and companies. In November 1965, she opened her own shop devoted to cookery in Pimlico, London. She wrote articles for Vogue magazine, one of the first in the genre of food-travel.

ELIZABETH DAVID : IT IS ILLEGAL TO COOK OR EAT THIS.

The late Elizabeth David, food historian and cookbook writer, has always seemed the model of British decorum. But this article in the U.K. Guardian reveals the " bitchy annotations" in the margins of her cookbooks (at one point she calls another well-known food writer a "pitiful phoney") — including her assessment of some bit of post-WWII horror called, utterly inexplicably, "Italian Salad"*: "The most revolting dish ever devised."

If you're all queer for food writing (like Salivation Army is), you'll want to read the article (and read up on David, too — there are nice articles/blogposts here, here and here, and a biography came out last year). If you just want to see the recipe that stretched a nice British food lady's last nerve, it's after the jump.

*
There is absolutely nothing Italian about this "salad." It may in fact be illegal to cook or eat this in Italy.

Italian salad
1 pint cold cooked macaroni
½ pint cooked or tinned pears
½ pint grated raw carrot
French dressing to moisten
2 heaped tablespoons minced onion
½ pint cooked or minced string beans
Mix the chopped macaroni and vegetables; moisten with French dressing, flavouring with garlic if liked. Serve on a dish lined with lettuce leaves. Decorate with mayonnaise and minced pimento or chives.

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