5 December 2014

Friday's Literary Feast

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

ELIZABETH DAVID
1913 - 92

The time she spent working and researching local eating habits in France, Italy, Greece and Egypt during World War II profoundly influenced Elizabeth David's views on cooking.  When she published A Book of Mediterranean Food in 1949, David changed British cuisine for ever.

If I had my way - and I shan't - my Christmas Day eating and drinking would consist of an omelette and cold ham and a nice bottle of wine at lunch time, and a smoked salmon sandwich with a glass of champagne on a tray in bed in the evening.  This lovely selfish anti-gorging, un-Christmas dream of hospitality, either given or taken, must be shared by thousands of women who know it's all Lombard Street to a China orange that they'll spend both Christmas Eve and Christmas morning peeling, chopping, mixing, boiling, roasting, steaming.  That they will eat and drink too much, that someone will say the turkey isn't quite as good as last year, or discover that the rum for the pudding has been forgotten, that by the time lunch has been washed up and put away it'll be tea-time, not to say drink or dinner time, and tomorrow it's the weekend and it's going to start all over again.

Is There a Nutmeg in the House


Elizabeth David in her kitchen in Halsey St., Chelsea
Photograph: Elizabeth David Estate

11 comments:

  1. Great quote from the book. I have to disagree though. I love overindulging on the holidays. But then again, I love food. :)

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    1. I love the bounty of chocolate and Christmas treats too but as someone who ridiculously chose this time of year to get married I can attest to the fact you have too much of a good thing. We can barely face the prospect of going out to dinner for our anniversary sometimes but somehow we manage it. Restriction and celebrating do not make a very good pairing...

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  2. This sounds lovely to me! After stuffing myself on Thanksgiving a nice, light Christmas meal is very appealing.

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    1. Your Thanksgiving celebrations are SO close to Christmas that I don't blame you! Join we Canadians on our feast day and you'll be very ready for another round of excess come December. If you pop back here I would be interested to know what your family serves for two special dinners so close together.

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  3. Lovely quotation - and so true about the burden that Christmas places on women, although I think I'd probably go for something more interesting than an omelette (even an Elizabeth David-produced one!).

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    1. At my house, we joke (and secretly long for) a kitchen witch who will do all of the prep work and washing up so we only have the fun bit. I agree, an omelette does sound a bit mean for a Christmas dinner...let's wonder if that omelette was filled with something decadent like caviar.

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  4. I love the quote! But I also love all the peeling, chopping, and roasting that goes on in our family kitchen! It stays fun because we only do one big Christmas Day meal (lunch). By the time we've eaten up the last crumbs of Cape Brandy Pudding, we're so full we couldn't even begin to contemplate dinner. If anyone feels hungry later on, there are plenty of left-overs... so each can make up his own private tray of foie gras or smoked salmon canapés!

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    1. We've recently started following the British example of having our dinner earlier in the day. Who wants to be washing up a counter full of pots and pans at 8 pm? Not me! It makes perfect sense and since we're a small family, allows us to step out to take in a movie and then come back ready for dessert.
      One year, I discovered our fridge had gone on the blink on Christmas morning and we were hosting. I ended up chopping, peeling, and roasting while a repairman was head first in the appliance. Not likely to ever forget *that* year!

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  5. I have a wonderful book "Elizabeth David's Christmas" where there is a similar quote about having smoked salmon and brown bread and a glass of white wine on a tray, eaten in bed during the crazy week leading up to Christmas. I have always loved that image. Thanks for reminding me of how much I love her writing! Love that photograph.

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    1. She looks wonderfully like a Cruella Deville of the kitchen with that gorgeous streak of gray and her popped collar.
      You have the nicest collection of books, Sunday. I wonder if my library has a copy of that Christmas book...you're right, it would be wonderful!

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  6. She could wear a white shirt like a boss (as my son would say).

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