Published 1 Aug 2012
432 pages; 173×246 mm; paperback with flaps; 100 b&w drawings
|• The great Alan Davidson’s first food book •
• Translated into Spanish, Italian, French and Dutch •
• Uniform with North Atlantic Seafood •This is a reprint of the current edition (now exhausted) with a new cover. The text has not been changed.
This is the essential book about the cookery as well as zoology of the fish and shellfish that inhabit the Mediterranean; now published in more than a dozen languages and available in France, Italy, Spain, Greece and many other home territories. It combines natural history and cookery in a most enticing way, providing information for the fisherman and seafood enthusiast as well as for the cook. Its genesis was while the author was posted to the British Embassy in Tunis, his wife needed an overview of the local fish markets to plan her shopping. It was taken up with enthusiasm by Elizabeth David and has been required reading ever since. The book is split between a catalogue, with drawings and description of each sort of fish, together with cookery notes and any information that might put it in context; and a recipe section which draws on the best methods of cooking these types of fish from the many countries best acquainted with them. There is a full index and bibliography. The writing is matchless: exact, yet humorous; learned, yet light. It is one of the most inspirational cookery books to have been written in the last fifty years.
The late Alan Davidson was a diplomat until 1975, thereafter devoting his life to writing about food. He was a significant catalyst of modern British food studies. He also wrote three definitive studies of seafood and completed the celebrated Oxford Companion to Food (1999). He won the Erasmus Prize in 2003 and was the subject of a BBC4 documentary in 2009/10. He died in 2003.
A selection of extracts from Mediterranean Seafood
Review in The Guardian Weekend Magazine (21/09/02)
Review in Saga Magazine (12/02)
Review in The Guardian Weekend Magazine (21 Sep 2002)
The standard approach to Alan Davidson is awe-struck worship of his erudition and his precise but mellifluous prose. Both qualities gleam on every page of Mediterranean Seafood, first published in 1972. Full low-down on 200 species, giving everything you need to know. But Mediterranean Seafood is also a cookbook: a good catch of more than 200 recipes. Not only that, the recipes are more genuinely instructive than 90% of those from 'real' cookery writers. Full marks to Penguin, which kept this book in print for more than two decades. Ditto to Prospect, publishers of this new edition, for presenting it in a larger, more docile format. Watch for Davidson's two other seafood books from Prospect next year. (And for his newly paperbacked Oxford Companion To Food, just out at £20.)
Mediterranean Seafood, by Alan David son, £17.99, Prospect Books.
Review in Saga Magazine (Dec 2002)
Derek Cooper relishes a batch of authoritative books for the gastronome
With Christmas on the way I propose a fistful of books for food lovers, starting with two old favourites of mine now back in print. When Alan Davidson was a diplomat he was despatched to Tunis to represent the Crown. While there his wife, Jane, bewildered by the diversity of the catch in the fish markets, asked her husband to compile a guide to the marine life in that part of the Mediterranean.
It was little more than a Roneoed list, but a fellow diplomat was so impressed that he sent it to Elizabeth David, who wrote about it in her column in The Spectator. Jill Norman, who was then cookery editor at Penguin, persuaded Davidson to expand the original and it was published in 1972 as Mediterranean Seafood. It remained in print for a quarter of a century and became a classic. Now it is born again.
Mediterranean Seafood (Prospect Books, £17.99) is both learned and entertaining. It gives the names in seven languages of 150 species of fish and it offers more than 200 recipes from Mediterranean and Black Sea countries. Alan Davidson's great gift as a writer (which he deployed with consummate skill in his recent Oxford Companion to Food) is the ability to handle vast amounts of information without ever being dull. Prospect Books is also publishing Davidson's North Atlantic Seafood and his Seafood of South-East Asia. They make a spellbinding trilogy.
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