For the great English food writer Elizabeth David, summer fare means neither tepid nor timid. Her stress is always on fresh, seasonal food-- recipes that can be quickly prepared and slowly savored, from Gnocchi alla Genovese ("simply an excuse for eating pesto") to La Poule au Pot to Gooseberry Fool. Divided into such sections as Soup, Poultry and Game, Vegetables, and Dessert, her 1955 classic includes an overview of herbs as well as chapters on impromptu cooking for holidays and picnics. Chockablock with both invaluable instructions and tart rejoinders to the pallid and the overblown, Summer Cooking is a witty, precise companion for feasting in the warmer months.
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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, David 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. Summer Cooking (1955, also published by NYRB Classics) consolidated her position as the foremost food writer of her day. David 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.
Molly O’Neill writes profiles and feature stories for The New Yorker. She was the longtime food columnist for the New York Times Magazine. She is the host of the PBS series Great Food and has published three award-winning cookbooks, The New York Cookbook (1992), A Well-Seasoned Appetite (1995), and The Pleasure of Your Company (1997).
"Decorated with a portrait of twin cherries, yellow runner beans, and the sweet, petite wild strawberries known as frais de bois, to urban eyes starved of July's sensual delights, the sunny cover of Summer Cooking seems to promise a storybook world...Summer Cooking is a wonderfully subversive volume -- every bit as unexpected and enchanting to read today as it must have been 50 years ago...But the purest thrill of Summer Cooking,as in all of David's volumes, is the nearly pugilistic punch of pleasure her food delivers, and the graceful way her bright, well-mannered prose captures the artist's fleeting delight...Whether read in bed in a baking tenement or at the breezy desk of a lolling barge, her words still ring like hypnotic prayers." --Salon.com
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