PPC 99 (December 2013)
PPC 99 (December 2013)
NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS
PAUL CLEAVE lives in Crediton, Devon. He has researched the history of Devon tourism, with particular emphasis on local foods. His collection of food books and ephemera is being exhibited at the Exeter Museum this winter. SALLY FINE lives in South Carolina and has had a long career writing about food and wine. PHIL IDDISON is a civil engineer who lives in west London and has worked in the Middle and Far East. He has written over many years for PPC and is a seasoned contributor to the proceedings of the Oxford Symposium. ALISON LOCKER is an archaeozoologist who specializes in fish-bone accumulations. She now lives in Andorra, but is attached to the University of Nottingham. ANTHONY LYMAN-DIXON grew herbs south of Bristol. He has now retired and his herbs will now grow merrily in the medieval herb garden of Pistoia. He has written much on the history of herbs and other edible plants. PROFESSOR LOREN D. MENDELSOHN is Chief of the Science and Engineering Library at the City College of New York. His interests include the history of science and information technology. DI MURRELL wrote a couple of issues ago about cooking on narrow-boats. She lives mostly in France and, with her husband Tam, trains people in inland navigation. HENRY NOTAKER lives in Norway and is an independent scholar who has published important works on the bibliography of early European cookery books. His Printed Cookbooks in Europe 1470–1700 was reviewed by Malcolm Thick in PPC 94. His website may be visited at <http://www.notaker.com>.
A conference on the history of dining on railways has been announced for 16–17 December 2014, to be held at Tours in France. It is organized by most prestigious names (largely French) and is taking as its remit railways throughout the world. All those who delight in quaffing fine Burgandy while watching the world go by will doubtless wish to attend. Further enquiries should be made to: Jean-Pierre Williot <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Laurent Tissot <email@example.com>, Michele Merger <firstname.lastname@example.org>. Proposals for papers should be submitted by the end of November 2013.
LEEDS SYMPOSIUM 2014
The Leeds Symposium on Food History and Traditions has been announced for 17 May 2014 at Friends Meeting House, Friargate, York. The subject is Jacks and Jaggers: Kitchen technology in England from 1600 to the Second World War. Speakers already announced include Peter Brears on charcoal and steam, David Eveleigh on gas, Tony Weston on spits, Giles Cowley on wrought iron and steel in the kitchen, and Michael Finlay on pastry jaggers. More information from the Hon. Sec., Robert Whitehouse, 5 Parkland Drive, Darlington, DL3 9DT or from their new website <www.leedsfoodsymposium.org.uk> whence application forms will shortly be available.
OXFORD SYMPOSIUM 2014
Details of the next Symposium at St Catherine’s College, Oxford are now available online at www.oxfordsymposium.org.uk. The subject this time is Food and Markets; the date is 11–13 July 2014. There is a call for papers with a deadline for proposals of 20 February 2014 (ultimate deadline being not more than 5,000 words by 30 May). The organizers describe the topic thus: ‘to examine the historical, sociological and practical aspects of the economic exchange between producer and consumer through which food arrives on our tables. Not forgetting the pleasures of marketing: the excitement of discovering new ingredients; watching the skill of a market-cook prepare a dish to order; the sheer enjoyment to be found in the peace, charm and sunshine of wandering around an open-air market in an unfamiliar (or familiar) part of the world and learning how people live.’ The Symposium has a more energetic corporate life than it used to. The website is the gateway to enlightenment.
I am presently working on the text of Constance Hieatt’s last book, an epitome of recipes for every (or almost every) dish identifiable from medieval English culinary manuscripts. One of them is for a fish pudding for Lent and is taken from Cambridge University Library MS Ll.I.18 (dated 1485) which was published in A Gathering of Medieval English Recipes, edited by Professor Hieatt herself (Brepols, 2008). The translated text reads: ‘Take the stomach of a pike, cod, or fresh ling, or a nice small pocket of linen cloth, or else the back of the cod or the ling with what cleaves to it. Chop all these [the contents, not the stomach itself] small to make your pudding minced. For the stuffing, take the liver of the cod or ling and a piece of the same fish, or a piece of fresh salmon, and chop it finely, and draw it up with the broth of their fishes through a strainer. Add currants, salt, and saffron, and fill the stomach reasonably. Simmer it over a slow fire, then boil it and serve it forth.’ (My italics.) Is this not an early example of the pudding cloth, normally dated to the end of the sixteenth century?
Eileen White came back from her holidays and sent us details on this museum of cooking history in Prague, Jakubska 12, 110 00 Praha 1 – Staré Mésto, <http://www.muzeumgastronomie.cz>
A JAPANESE RESTAURANT, 1930
Claude Houghton’s novel I am Jonathan Scrivener (1930, reprinted 2013 by Valancourt Books, Kansas City) was much recommended in a recent round-up in the TLS of undervalued books from yesteryear. I must confess that I found it underwhelming. However, he does write about a visit to a Japanese restaurant in London. The narrator’s account and his reactions to the food are certainly worth reading. He was taken there by a playboy figure named Rivers who starts by exclaiming:
‘Here we are! Never been here? Oh, it’s great fun, Japanese food. You’ll love it.’ I followed him through a dimly-lit room in which jet-black tables were dotted about. The walls, too, were black and apparently the food was served in curious black bowls. Rivers stopped at two tables to greet people he knew, then piloted me to a table by the window. Whereupon he passed me a menu which conveyed absolutely nothing to me. I indicated as much. ‘Quite,’ was his comment. ‘They do a lunch here. I always have it. I like this food. Of course, if you like, you can have English food.’ This concession was made in such a disparaging tone that he might have been offering me poison. ‘I brought a man here who had lived in Japan and he said that this is the stuff all right.’… It was at this point that the first course appeared. It consisted of odds and ends of dry, very dead-looking things. I tried one which looked like a mushroom of great antiquity, but it turned out to be raw fish. To my amazement Rivers ate this quite cheerfully while launching out on a theory concerning birth control. I tried something else which looked like ginger. I took a good bite of this hoping to banish the memory of the fish. There was a kind of explosion in my mouth; the next second it was full of acrid dust. After these two experiments, I dared not continue.… My eyes had now become accustomed to the dimness of the room and I could see its occupants plainly. They were all English, or at any rate Europeans, and were somewhat eccentric in clothes and manner. They all talked loudly and everyone seemed to know everyone else. The only Japanese were the waiters. Curiously enough, I happened to look out of the window and saw four or five Japanese, but they all walked resolutely past the restaurant. I was considering this anomaly deeply when the soup arrived. It was neither hot nor cold, clean nor dirty, thick nor clear, and it had long weeds in it which looked rather like serpents who had died in youth. Rivers started gaily enough, however. It is curious what cowards we are when we are guests. Had I been the host on this occasion, I would have sent this soup away immediately, but, as it was, I decided that I must try to get through it.… It tasted exactly like the old Aquarium at Brighton used to smell. ‘Some people don’t like this soup,’ said Rivers. ‘I’m afraid I don’t much,’ I said apologetically. ‘Pity! Never mind. There’s lots of other dishes coming. Try the things floating about in it. They’re great fun.’ But an interruption saved me. … Personally I would rather have been seen by Mr Otto Strong than have been obliged to look at the contents of the black bowl which had been placed in front of me. Although it resembled spaghetti, recent experience had proved that in this restaurant things were not what they seemed. Nor did the fact that one solitary prawn crowned the writhing pyramid inspire me with any confidence. ‘Looks like spaghetti,’ said Rivers, ‘but it isn’t.’ I waited, hoping he would say what it was, but he began to eat in the manner of one performing a rite. Also he manipulated with great dexterity some remarkable instrument with which he conveyed the food to his mouth. I demanded a fork, although I realised that by so doing I was placing myself irredeemably. I discovered that the thin white worms were seaweed of a notable antiquity. The fork fell from my hand. I watched Rivers, who was eating rapidly, with genuine admiration. Then a doubt crossed my mind; perhaps his was different from mine; perhaps his was fresh and mine was bad. However, they looked exactly the same. I had to admit that. ‘You leave the prawn till the end,’ said Rivers as if he were instructing a child. Then he went on, ‘The prawn acquires an extraordinarily subtle flavour after you’ve finished this stuff.’ I decided to lie, and I therefore began with the time-honoured formula: ‘To tell you the truth, I’m not very hungry. I had a late breakfast. ‘Quite! Pity! Never mind – you can try some odd things they usually serve after this. … ‘See that girl over there? No, the one by the door in the black hat and the yellow scarf. She’s Pepstone’s new model. Vital, isn’t she? I danced with her the other night. She has practically all her meals here.’ I was about to comment on this last statement when Rivers began to rattle on again. He launched a long theory concerning naval disarmament and having indicated in a few bold strokes the simple method by which this could be achieved, he ended by saying, ‘I admit the Japanese are a menace.’ After which he took another large helping of seaweed. … At this point some dainties were put on the table which resembled small, petrified bats. Rivers took four and there was a lull during which he ate slowly. Fortunately he did not notice that I ignored their presence. When he had eaten two, a friend came and engaged him in a whispered conversation, … As tactfully as possible, I inquired whether coffee in this restaurant in any way resembled the beverage usually associated with the word. On being assured that it did, I accepted a cup. It was coffee. I drank it quickly, fearful that its surroundings might pervert it. … We left together. I can give no better indication of the atmosphere prevailing in that restaurant than to state that when I found myself outside it, in the sunlight, breathing crisp, cold air, I was quite surprised to discover that the every-day world still existed; that I was in London; and that certain of the shop windows, contained familiar objects which I could recognise definitely as food. I was prepared to believe anything that Rivers had told me, with one important exception; I did not believe that the girl, who he said was an artist’s model, had practically all her meals in that restaurant. She was strong, she was beautifully made and – I did not believe it.
The perils of engaging with the British government via the Internet are so disturbing that I must record the Jaine family’s frustration and abhorrence. We all know the various government IT fiascos that have been bruited abroad, yet sometimes we have had smooth, speedy and elegant contact with the civil service by means of the computer. We have gloried in the ease of paying our vehicle excise duty; we have wondered at the efficiency of the VAT return designed for online completion. Yet we have also read with alarm of the fate of online benefits claimants who are not equipped with the correct hardware and software. Our most recent encounter with the governmental juggernaut has been my wife Sally’s attempt to make a GiftAid return to HMRC on behalf of her parish church. It was once paper-based, then was promoted to an efficient and simple online form, but now has been upgraded to something altogether more complex. For some reason, the simple route is only available to those with the right sort of computer operating system (Windows); otherwise, for those with Macs, it is a deep country lane to nowhere. We battled for hours to download the right software. We failed. We compared notes with other volunteers. They, too, have failed. The Diocese, perhaps, is in an uproar. Church roofs will collapse. Stipends will be left unpaid. I hope so. No comment has yet been extracted from HMRC. Just in case you think I’m an old buffer who hates bureaucratic government, I could have written a similar paragraph about my hatred for the systems erected by Apple for the resolution of errors in their hardware. If you are over 40, never, I repeat, never, tangle with an Apple Store. Kafka is light reading in comparison.
INTERNATIONAL FOOD STUDIES CONFERENCE
A conference has been announced at the University of Adelaide, Australia on Food Studies: a Multidisciplinary Menu; the date is 17–19 February 2014. The topics include: food/gastronomic heritage; diet and culture; food studies as methods; drinks and drinking; contemporary debates on food and consumption; food and travel, migration, and globalization. For more information you can e-mail <email@example.com>.
Maurice French: The Lamington Enigma: A survey of the evidence: Tabletop Publishing, 2013: 280 pp., AUD$39.95 (UK readers can buy directly from Professor French at a discount price of AUD$30 plus surface mail of AUD$20 from Tabletop Publishing, 60 Phillip Street, Toowoomba, Queensland 4350, e-mail <Maurice.French@usq.edu.au>). The lamington is a square cake iced with chocolate, then rolled in dessicated coconut. It is an iconic Australian goodie, often the central offering of fund-raising lamington drives, and now takes its place, with this book, in the new tradition of analysis of Australasian sweet and baked foods. The cake is named for one of the Lamingtons (Lord or Lady) – he was governor of Queensland, 1896–1901. He seems a feisty fellow, or maybe just a rich man out of his depth in a somewhat rough Australia. There’s a great bit of invective quoted by Professor French from The Worker who describe him as a ‘peevish, fretful kind of joker’. And he was pretty rude himself about lamingtons, describing them as ‘those bloody poofy, woolly biscuits.’ A man of taste, evidently. Astonishingly, for a brief year around 1900, the Lamington’s governess was Helena Rubinstein (and if she wasn’t a governess then she was a maid). She went on, of course, to make face powder for the masses. This book is just a wonderful romp through the intimate details of colonial life at the turn of the twentieth century encompassing governors, technical colleges, newspapers and any number of red herrings about who thought up the lamington. I will not spoil your read by telling you the conclusion, save to observe that the general theory of ‘recipe evolution’ proposed by Helen Leach plays a part in the final judgement. The book is large, lavish and enormous fun. Well done. Jane Whittle and Elizabeth Griffiths: Consumption and Gender in the Early Seventeenth-Century Household: Oxford U.P., 2012: 266 pp., £60.00. The Le Stranges of Hunstanton in Norfolk are a well-archived family, their early-modern financial accounts are astonishing. Alice Le Strange, who married Sir Hamon, was particularly good at keeping a record of the household and no mean estate manager to boot. This study analyses the consumption patterns of the household, not forgetting a good section on the kitchen and the hall. Full of useful facts and an interesting comparison to Mark Dawson’s study of the Willoughbys of Wollaton. Jeffrey Parker: Global Crisis: War, Climate Change and Catastrophe in the Seventeenth Century: Yale University Press, 2013: 874 pp., illustrations, hardback, £29.99. This long book would once have been a three-decker. This would have allowed it a larger typeface, more generous margins and made it easier to handle. But multi-volume books are no longer acceptable, more’s the pity. Here we have a thoroughly good read and a provocation to thought. Professor Parker aims to explain the ghastly political cock-up that was the seventeenth century (until about 1680) – not just in Europe, but in China, Russia and the Ottoman empire. The professor would say that India and Japan managed to better weather the crisis, as did also the then-outlying continents of America, Africa and Australia. In a series of narrative chapters (first-rate summations, with a beady eye for telling facts and characters), he recounts the depths to which most major states sank during these decades. The causes were manifold and the narrative is a sorry catalogue of incompetence, stupidity, intransigence and human frailty. Into this mix is thrown the coincidental phenomenon of the Little Ice Age, the rigours of which only served to deepen the crisis. Parker’s climatalogical account is horridly fascinating, and the links between the environment and its human occupants are of abiding interest (not least because of our present condition, discussed in a closing section). However, it’s worth noting – as does he – that the poor weather continued for some decades after the resolution of our political problems. What seems to come out of this book, to this humble reader at least, is that politicians of the early seventeenth century were dealing with structures that were more complex than their abilities to cope, in particular the ‘composite states’ that were a feature of this period. These super-states arose in part because of the greater abilities of their rulers to exert control by military means (guns and forts), and the techniques of violence outran the ability to negotiate. It took most of this period to create mechanisms of political discourse sufficiently sophisticated to avoid disaster – and a lot of people died in the process. This is a must-read. Rachel Laudan: Cuisine and Empire: Cooking in World History: University of California Press, November 2013, £27.95 Readers will be familiar with my admiration for Rachel Laudan’s food historical lucubrations on her website <http://www.rachellaudan.com/>. Her latest contribution to the literature of food history is this time in book form: painstakingly researched and compellingly presented. This comprehensive exploration of the construction of empires throughout the history of the world and the role food played within such empires, as well as how it spread, developed and changed from one locality and one people to another, contains a wealth of historical detail. Laudan begins with the most fundamental, ancient and basic foodstuff which continues to form an integral part of the human diet: grain. This opening chapter; ‘Mastering Grain Cookery 20,000–300 bce’ describes a significant factor in man’s evolution into Homo erectus. This extends into a long contemplation on the origins of cooking and its role in brain enlargement, the development of the pleasure principle and the sense of taste, as well as how we coped with grain both in the field and on the stove – with a ramble down the lanes to the mill en route. In seven subsequent chapters she tells the tale of cookery around the world: the barley-wheat cuisines of the ancient empires; Buddhist cuisines; Islamic cuisines of central and west Asia; Christian cuisines in Europe and the Americas (to 1650); what she calls ‘the prelude’ to modern cuisines in northern Europe (to 1840); modern cuisines, which she epitomizes as ‘middling cuisines’ (1810–1920); and modern cuisines in the globalized world (1920–2000). As might be expected, the longest chapter is that discussing the Western style of cooking as it spread through a world both informed by and informing the imperial project in the nineteenth century. The va et vient of foods between subject peoples, colonists and home populations is a constant of each section and Laudan shows herself an inveterate internationalist. This is the sort of book that comes up at dinner parties: ‘Have you read…?’ Or it’s part of the e-mail chatter of people interested in food around the world. It will be source and sauce for many conversations in the future. Jon Stobart: Sugar & Spice. Grocers and Groceries in Provincial England, 1650–1830: Oxford University Press, 2013: 304 pp., hardback, £62.00. At this price, most readers will not be rushing to their corner bookstore, but they may well put in a request at their library. No aspect of social history is currently more popular than consumer studies. We even have a book discussing shopping in ancient Rome. The consumer is seen both as actor (provoking historical change) and one acted upon (reacting to that change), and we can all see how the desire to consume may drive progress just as potently as the offer of more goods induces a change in habits. In the matter of food it can sometimes be difficult to distinguish between agent and patient, a chicken and egg situation. Does an old biddy drinking tea in Ipswich provoke and encourage the imperial venture, or is she the consequence of that venture? The book under review has an awful lot on the imperial venture in general (because so many of the grocer’s goods came from far away). It is a trope I wish historians would let lie for a while. The study of grocers and their wares is likely to be based on inventories, the tradesmen’s own financial accounts, sometimes precious survivals of memoirs or other sources in prose (for example Thomas Turner’s diaries or William Stout’s autobiography), and financial records in the archives of the customers themselves. The author has been diligent in his research in all sectors (and his bibliography is really useful for the secondary literature) although perhaps less wide-ranging in his interrogation of customers’ archives than he might have been and fairly restricted in his reading among books of cookery and household management (to discover what actually happened to the groceries). There are, however, some really useful facts adduced about grocers’ furnishings, the use of grocery shops by the public, and the sorts of groceries sold over the long 18th century. On facts, then, he is good. On speculation and comment, he is less inspiriting. Most historians should stick to facts and let theory go hang. Their observations are often either impenetrable or redundant. In the case of this book, it reads like a civil service or local government report. Professor Stobart did provoke me to one very happy day’s reading. I devoured William Stout’s autobiography in a single gluttonous mouthful (The Autobiography of William Stout of Lancaster, 1665–1752, ed. J.D. Marshall, Manchester University Press, 1967: this is no longer available, but there are print-on-demand versions of a text, without editorial apparatus, extant on Amazon and elsewhere). Stout was an ironmonger and grocer as well as a Quaker. At times he dabbled, never successfully, in foreign trade, usually with the West Indies and America. His memoir is gripping stuff, astonishingly readable even while his life was hardly adventurous. A lifelong bachelor admitting to but a single episode of courtship, he was cared for by a devoted mother and a sister (who spent most of her life on the verge of extinction but battled on regardless). What impresses the modern reader is a peculiar religious tolerance which is none the less combined with an eagerness to criticize any backsliding in personal conduct among his friends and relations. None of the younger generation, in his eyes, ever comported himself as befitted a sober and resolute man (or woman) of business. All of them consorted with company too liberal and pleasure-loving for their own good. What this meant, according to his witness at least, was that most small businesses of his acquaintance were frail, fugitive affairs. He did not reckon much on doctors and apothecaries but relied instead on the beneficial effects of long walks in the early mornings and daily sojourns in his garden after working hours. And he gloried in plain food (and local food): ‘was content with simple and plaine meat and drinke, such as was the product of our own country, without any sauces, even potatos without butter.’ He got up early (4 a.m. in the summer), discounting the efficacy of one niece’s housekeeping because she never rose before 8 o’clock. His domestic arrangements reveal that all the important domestic functions were undertaken, in his house at least, by the family, not by servants. Maids were employed to do the heavy work, the brewing and the cleaning but not, it seems, the cooking and the purchasing. He laid great stress on his female relatives’ housekeeping abilities. This may have some relevance to our own ideas of who it was who bought books of receipts, even if Stout himself did not hold with sauces. Recommended. Jeanne E. Arnold, Anthony P. Graesch, Enzo Ragazzini, Elinor Ochs: Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century – 32 Families Open their Doors: Cotsen Institute of Archaeology Press, UCLA, 2012: 172 pp., colour photography, hardback, £22.50. A voyeur’s paradise, this book of modern ethnoarchaeology and material cultures dissects and records the interiors and backyards of 32 middle-class, two-income family homes (each with at least two children, of which one had to be under seven years-old – they mostly have a mother and a father too, but two of the households have two fathers instead). The result at least offers me post hoc facto justification for publishing a book called Messy Cook. In the main, the study confirms our prejudices with regard to the minimal time spent cooking and eating together in 21st-century America (with not a hint of recreational cooking in these homes either), and the crushing dominance of frozen and processed foods. It is also source of the great fact that a meal cooked from scratch only takes 12 minutes longer (38 minutes) to prepare than a meal composed of processed foods. The time saved is in the planning and shopping, not the preparation. It also underlines the psychological importance of the modern boutique hotel in our conceptualization of leisure and relaxation. The most popular home improvement or modification among these families was the construction of a new master bedroom with a decent bathroom. Conceived as a refuge from the dire chaos of their daily lives (a hope not always realized, alas), the template is invariably the stylish hotel. One is struck by the insignificance of the kitchen, at least as a physical space – even though the room, cramped and chaotic though it may be, was the beating heart of family life. For the record, the feature the archaeologists on this study got most excited about was the use of the refrigerator door for display and information. And the fact that got me most ventilated was the almost universal abandonment of the garden and outdoors, even in a climate as dulcet as California. A charming book which portrays a society consuming too much for its own good. Lucius Junius Moderatus Columella; Sten Hedberg, translator: Tolv böcker om lantbruk. Stockholm: Kungl. Skogsoch Lantbruksakademien, undated [2012?] ISBN 978-91-85205-77-6 To put Columella in context, he lived under the Roman Empire in the mid-first century ad. He came from a wealthy farming family in southern Spain and also farmed in Italy. Columella was in many ways the best ancient Roman writer about agriculture: his ‘twelve books on farming’ are more systematic than Cato’s work, more businesslike than Varro’s, and include a unique section of recipes for farm-prepared foods and conserves. You may think, if your Swedish is rusty, that you don’t need this new Swedish translation of Columella. English readers have, after all, a Loeb Classical Library edition in three little volumes, published 1941–1955 and still in print, with a better-than-usual English translation by Ash, Forster and Heffner. Don’t jump to conclusions. Here you have not only a new translation but an explanatory glossary of proper names, then an index of plants (Swedish, botanical Latin, classical Latin) with detailed notes, then an index of animals and fish, then a general subject index. And then thirty-two fine illustrations of Roman agriculture from mosaics, tomb reliefs and manuscripts, some of them quite unfamiliar. And then maps and lists of agricultural products of the Roman provinces. And then a collection of twelve illustrated chapters, almost a book in themselves, adding up to a symposium by Hedberg himself and eleven other authors. The subject is Columella and his world: his work in its literary context; farming in the ancient Mediterranean; the animals and plants that formed the raw material of ancient farming and gardening; food and daily life in the first century. The survey of ancient plants and their uses, by Kjell Lundquist, is outstanding among these supplementary chapters. Andrew Dalby Orlando Gough: Orlando Gough Recipe Journal: A Celebration of Extraordinary Home Cooks, No. 2: TOAST, 2012, 100 pp., paperback, £11.95. As understated and elegant as a Moleskin journal, this suavely presented recipe collection is by no means beauty without substance. The musician Orlando Gough’s recipe journal is exactly that, recipes collected over his lifetime, separated into decades, with amusing recollections and artistic black and white photographs. His prose is wise and debonair; his recipes are precise, clear and reliable. The recipes are old favourites, Mum’s marmalade, cullen skink and baked eggs all feature, bringing to mind one’s own youth and the sort of nursery food we crave as we get older; then progressing through Elizabeth David to the wider repertoire of the British bien-pensant middle class. There is a wistful quality reminiscent of Nigel Slater, and the recipes are just as sensible and intuitive. All in all Toast has produced something as simple, classic and pleasing as a slice of its namesake. Just as Orlando’s granny learns in a hat shop – about which we read in one recipe introduction – restraint is worth more than extravagance. Wisdom indeed. Letitia Clark Catherine Brown: Scottish Cookery: Birlinn, 2013: 468 pp., pb, £12.99. The arrival of this paperback version, with an updated buyer’s guide, of Catherine Brown’s substantial, readable, indeed classic work should be registered. Close inspection reveals many changes since the revised edition from the Mercat Press in 1999 (the very first issue was published by Richard Drew in 1985). There are some new recipes, some excisions and much refinement of the text. It is arguable that you will prefer the format as the paper is very mass-market, but the typography is spacious enough and nicely legible. Her combination of quotation, narrative and recipe is to be admired. Mark Hix: The Collection: Quadrille, 2013: 320 pp., hardback, £25.00. This stylish compilation of Hix’s favourite recipes gleaned from a career spanning more than two decades is high concept – illustrations from artists such as Tracy Emin and the ever-spectacular photography of Jason Lowe. And the recipes are enlightening, reliable and approachable. Hix is famed for his championing of rustic and seasonal British fare, and this showcases his understated attention to detail and complex simplicity. His gentle sense of fun and irony also shine through in signature recipes such as ‘heaven and earth’ (black pudding and apple mash) and fish fingers. Regional specialities such as Stargazy pie (from Mousehole) and Kentish pudding are revived with interesting introductions detailing some of their history. There is also an extensive section dedicated entirely to drinks. There seems an easy blend of tradition and innovation. Letitia Clark The Foodie Bugle: £10 an issue from <http://thefoodiebugle.com>. The Foodie Bugle is an online magazine site concerned with all things foodist created and largely written by Silvana de Soissons. So successful has it been that she has taken the plunge into print. This first issue (and the second, which is now available) showcases the ‘handmade and home-grown’ and provides a ‘peaceful and pleasant space’ in a world saturated by gaudy and persistent food advertising and media. Certainly it is a thing of beauty in itself, subtly but finely produced, with a sense of tranquillity induced by mellow photographs, gentle illustrations, delicate typography and meditative articles. There is a broad spectrum of food, nature, interiors and craft, with at least a couple of articles exploring each category. Ben Pentreath’s interiors are juxtaposed with articles on artisan chocolates, which in turn are complemented by some distinctive portraits of Maltby Street food vendors by Tif Hunter. There are some treasures, including illustrations by Elizabeth Luard, a fascinating article on food in Pakistan and plenty of interviews with small-scale producers. What perhaps marks it out from the crowd is its enthusiasm. It makes you feel the world is a more cheerful place. Letitia Clark Cereal: a quarterly magazine in pursuit of food and travel: (produced in Bristol): all details and subscription information (£35 per annum) available from <http://readcereal.com>, although it can be bought retail at a few select outlets (Foyles in London or Daylesford Organic for the richer of you). This magazine has now produced its fourth issue, each more elegant and spare (yet lavish) than the last. The editor is Rosa Park and the contributing editor is Richard Aslan. As with The Foodie Bugle, it is a sign that the potential of print has yet to be exhausted. It is beautifully produced, beautifully illustrated and beautifully designed. This volume covers a range of locations and subjects, again, like the Bugle, food, craft and nature predominate. There are some wonderful photographs, and some of the articles have to work hard to match them for inspiration. Like the dangerous magazines they leave in aeroplanes to entice you to travel to destinations never before considered, Cereal will certainly have you making wild plans to go to Denmark to drink flat whites in the smallest (and chic-est) café in Europe, or to order beautiful ceramics from the man who makes all of Noma’s crockery. With a few interesting recipes thrown in for good measure and a gripping article on the ritual of making Matcha (as well as a review of the tip-top tea purveyor, Lahloo) Cereal provides a lot more to chew over than its frequently soggy and disappointing namesake. Letitia Clark Ole G. Mouritsen: Seaweeds, Edible, Available & Sustainable: University of Chicago Press, 2013: 272 pp., hardback, £24.50. Ole G. Mouritsen is a scientist and professor of biophysics at the University of Southern Denmark. Be impressed, but rest assured this book is not one that will be pushed to the back of a highbrow academic library shelf; it is a delightfully easy read and is illustrated with superb photographs. Mouritsen charts the history of seaweed and Brits will enjoy mention of the fact that Dr Kathleen Mary Drew Baker (1901–57) discovered a property of porphyra (more familiar to us as laver or nori), which enabled it to be cultivated. Indeed the Japanese hold Kathleen Drew Baker in high regard, referring to her as the ‘Mother of the Sea.’ There is a heavy focus on the cultivation of seaweed in Japan: as home of nori and sushi this is to be expected. The Japanese, however, might not have known without reading this book that harvesting carrageen (a red seaweed) in Zanzibar enables mothers there to support their families. ‘Seaweeds are marine algae,’ heads many a page as Mouritsen seeks to direct the reader’s understanding of the colloquial term ‘seaweed’. There are chapters on seaweed folklore, its technical uses (from gunpowder, soda and early glass-making to biofuels) and its use in medicine, health care and cosmetics. My favourite chapter was obviously going to be ‘Seaweeds in the kitchen’ and the cooks among you will be pleased to learn that it is a long and comprehensive one, covering no less than: Seaweeds in the Home Kitchen; as Seasonings; in Soups; in Salads And Sauces; in Omelettes and in Fish and Vegetable Dishes; and Sushi; in Bread, Pasta and Savoury Tarts; in Desserts and Cakes; in Drinks; in Snacks; in Gastronomy. There has to be something for everyone in this collection. The recipes are clearly written and the ingredient lists not extensive. You could simply take your tried and tested guacamole recipe and add 5 tbsps of dried sea lettuce or dulse, or even try the same with mayonnaise. Come to think of it, I have such a recipe in my Forager’s Kitchen. My own book is not academic but in neither that nor this one under discussion do the recipes require a science degree. A professor who is an accomplished cook is a rarity, but one who has the foresight to write for an international readership while keeping measurements accessible, must be nigh on unique. I love Mouritsen’s book. In this kitchen it certainly won’t be collecting dust, metaphorical or otherwise, but it might get enhanced by splashes from slimy wet seaweed and other ingredients. It’s on my list of ‘don’t lend to anyone unless they are your best friend’ editions. Highly recommended. I paid for this book, although Ole Mouritsen has ping-ed an email from Denmark to the Outer Hebrides: ‘It is a great experience to get into contact with people with whom you share a passion (‘of cooking with weird things’).’ I have to adore an author who bothers to quote me in an email. Fi Bird Lynda Moreau, ed.: The Confederate Cookbook: Family Favorites from the Sons of Confederate Veterans: Los Angeles, Pelican Publishing Company, 2000: 382 pp., hardback, £15.83. If the old cliché that an ‘army marches upon its stomach’ has any validity whatsoever, then this truly appalling book explains why the South lost the war, not least because the majority of its recipes require the presence of a well-stocked modern Walmart. Unfortunately Walmart was incorporated more than a century after the Appomattox surrender so what the troops actually fed on does not form part of this book. Authenticity, then, has gone with the wind, taking General Robert E. Lee, ‘colored washrooms’ and all the rest of the Old South with it, leaving only the creaking dream of a parallel universe, culinary no less than political. Take for instance ‘Hearty Crock Pot Clam Chowder’ on page 150, which relies on ‘2 cans minced clams, drained’, not to mention the three different varieties of Campbell’s soup (and no, contrary to what you are thinking, Campbell’s didn’t sponsor its publication). Again try ‘Matt’s Easy SCV Dessert’ on page 342, which is introduced with the wholly superfluous line, ‘You don’t have to be much of a cook to make this tasty dessert,’ and which lists amongst the ingredients, ‘Family size brownie mix’, ‘Large Size instant chocolate pudding’, ‘1 can cherry pie filling’, ‘8-ounce package frozen whipped topping’ and ‘1–2 toffee candy bars’. With your taste buds about to go into overdrive, you turn to the index for the directions of how to assemble these wondrous delicacies and indeed you find the names just as printed in recipe headings. But suppose you wanted to know how to prepare that all-time Dixie classic ‘Brunswick stew’. It’s no good looking under either ‘beef’ or ‘Brunswick’ because it is in fact listed under ‘Granny Coleman’s Brunswick stew’. Consequently unless you know to which particular family member a recipe is credited, and bear in mind that there are not only ten grandmothers, but a great-aunt and a great granny listed as well, this folksy, whimsy, twee index is totally useless. The Confederate Cookbook has a curiosity value in that it is quite the worst cookbook that I have encountered in fifty years of collecting such things. Nevertheless, I can see the point of it, if you have a larder bursting to the seams with a vast range of junk food, the boys are already on the way round to watch the game and are expecting to be fed before kick-off and you have a headache, all you have to do is open a few cans, slop the contents together and everybody will be happy. But ask yourself, do you really need to spend fourteen quid on guidance for the concoction of a dog’s dinner? As it is, it seems insulting to the superb culinary traditions of a vast region whose citizens came within a whisker of winning a gruelling war, fighting for a cause they sincerely believed in. They, and we, deserve better. Anthony Lyman-Dixon Catherine Phipps: The Pressure Cooker Cookbook, Ebury Press, 2012: 223 pp., hardback, £18.99. Pressure cooking seems to be having something of a vogue, or so the publishers and manufacturers hope. A second generation of these appliances is now available, with new safety features and greater ease of use than the wobbling, hissing pans of the past. This way of cooking is not for everyone but for those who respond to the appeal of dramatically shorter cooking times for a wide range of dishes this book would be an excellent guide for all but complete kitchen novices. Catherine Phipps is an experienced cook and foodwriter with work to be found on the Guardian Word of Mouth feature, and the review pages of Fire and Knives. She writes engagingly and promotes confidence with the attractively presented and clearly laid out recipe pages, together with a selection of coloured illustrations. The practical details of managing the cooker are lucidly explained and there are useful background comments and notes to most of the recipes. These range widely, from meat and fish, to beans and pulses, vegetables and puddings and even preserves, and draw on a wide variety of cuisines. Jennifer Storey Rachel Cooke: Her Brilliant Career: Ten Extraordinary Women of the Fifties: Virago, 2013: 326 pp., hardback, £18.99. This last review was intended to be merely a brief note to register the existence of its first chapter, the subject of which is Patience Gray. However, the book was so appetizing that I ate it at a single meal. So I can do no more than recommend the whole. Rachel Cooke is a journalist whose interviews have ever been readable, in the Observer mostly. She has excelled herself with this book which will bring back to mind figures and characters, connections and tendencies, long since forgotten. She writes clearly, intelligently, evocatively, and amusingly. An excellent Christmas present.
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