26 June 2015

Friday's Literary Feast

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

1890 - 1976

The following recipe comes from a cookery book published by the Ministry of Food to help women cope with wartime rationing.  The other contributors included Joyce Grenfell, Stella Gibbons, Marie Stopes and Rebecca West.


(Enough for 5 or 6 people)

½ lb mushrooms                                  6 eggs
A little margarine                                 Pepper and salt
Jar of shrimps                                      Dessertspoonful of olive oil 
¼ lb cooked ham or tongue                          

Method:  Peel mushrooms and cook in a closed casserole with a little margarine, either in moderate oven or on a very low gas.  When tender, add a jar of shrimps and ham, or tongue, cut up in small pieces.  Keep warm and make omelet by breaking eggs into bowl and beating up lightly with fork (not whisk).  Add pepper and salt, put olive oil or butter or margarine in large frying-pan.  When steaming hot pour in eggs, stir round once or twice and let set.  Take off flame, put filling mixture on one-half of omelet and fold other half over.  Slip off on to dish.  Serve at once.
  If liked, small tin of cream of mushroom soup can be thickened with a little cornflour and poured over as sauce.

A Kitchen Goes to War

With warm thoughts of the doyenne of British cookery and former member of the Ministry of Food, Marguerite Patten, who passed away on June 4, just shy of her 100th birthday.


  1. Fascinating - celebrity cook books seem to have a much longer history than one might thing.

    1. So true! This book was available as a pdf but you had to create an account to access it so I plan to do a bit of sleuthing to find it elsewhere. I'm thinking it might fit the bill as a Persephone reprint!

  2. I had tea with Marguerite Patten once when she must have been well into her 80s. She was lovely and so interesting to talk to.

    1. Mary...first Lucy and now this! I must set aside a page in my notebook for discussion topics when we meet up again. I've heard Marguerite interviewed a few times and loved her straightforward manner and boy was she sharp! You are so lucky to have met her; a true icon but I don't think she would have liked that title.