22 August 2014

Friday's Literary Feast

Quotes from The Virago Book of Food:  The Joy of Eating

1888 - 1951

In the 1930s Winifred Fortescue and her husband left England to live amidst the olive groves in Provence.  During and after the Second World War, Lady Fortescue's habit of distributing provisions to the poor in her neighbourhood led to her being dubbed 'Maman Noël'.

When the harvest of orange-blossom is plucked and the wild oranges turn golden, everyone picks them for confiture d'oranges, a delicious bitter marmalade.
  Neighbours this year vied with each other in showering these wild oranges upon us until Emilia, grown desperate, announced her intention of making marmalade at once.  From that moment everything in the house became sticky.  Emilia and Lucienne were up to the eyes in marmalade.  The kitchen table and all that was laid thereon became coated with it.  Forks, spoons, and knives stuck to our hands; plates clung to the tablecloth.  The smell of cooking oranges pervaded the whole house; every casserole and kitchen vessel was filled with soaking oranges; the stove completely covered with preserving pans, some of them borrowed from an obliging American neighbour.  Even our lingerie was stiffened with marmalade after the sticky hands of Lucienne had ironed and folded it; for in Provence the maids do all the household ironing as part of their job.
  When a mass of pots were filled and I had soaked papers in brandy to preserve the marmalade, and we had tied on the covers and labelled the jars, Emilia proudly invited Monsieur to enter her 'jam-shop'.  When he made his enthusiastic exit, his feet stuck to the parquet in his study.  He had been paddling in marmalade.
  The cherry season is even funnier; for when the stones are all taken out of the fruit preparatory to making jam, our two maidens are stained crimson all over.  Emilia dramatically informs me that she and Lucienne are murderers, and that their victim is stewing in the preserving pan.

Perfume from Provence

Artist - Nancy Bartmess


  1. I've got this book on my TBR - it looks half delightful, half painfully 'noblesse oblige'. This description sounds like it definitely fits the delightful assessment!

  2. After my success in finding Margaret Kennedy's Together and Apart on Open Library, I am hoping that some of your other reads will also be lurking there! Lady Fortescue was obviously a prolific writer and lots of her books are available on Open Library - unfortunately not in ebook form yet. Keep the recommendations flowing!