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Spices, Salt and Aromatics in the English Kitchen – Elizabeth David

12 September 2001 by
Spices, Salt and Aromatics in the English Kitchen – Elizabeth David
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This book has been written as a glossary of spices and aromatic herbs, with factual descriptions of their origins and uses, but it also moves on to discuss various sections of cuisine from sauces and salads through to fish, rice, vegetables and meat dishes ending up with sweet dishes, savouries and pickles. At all times it demonstrates the importance and relevance of spices, salt and aromatics. > Elizabeth David takes the opportunity to give light to a part of English cuisine that is now rarely used and largely forgotten. She demonstrates the varied and diverse nature of English cooking, identifying its many influences over the centuries resulting from trade with other nations. In fact the book is less a selection of recipes than an historical journey through countries that have influenced the English addiction to spices. It is rather an anthropological view of English food history written instructively and informatively in a very readable style in which David's great depth of knowledge of her subject is plain to see. Many of the recipes are for keen or ambitious home cooks but the book also teaches professionals the importance of seasoning. David has a great knack of pointing out that good food can easily be achieved by the amateur. She touches upon classic dishes from many parts of the world with fascinating references to days gone by, but it is her fondness for the Levant that I found most interesting. The recipes are not particularly user friendly or well laid out but do encourage the reader to be free with ingredient use, timings and measurements. The complexity of the recipes varies considerably from a simple avocado salad to a fromage de tête. However, on the whole the recipes - tried and tested over the years - are simple and straightforward to follow. This is an exceptional, well-researched book. An informative and enjoyable read which at the same time doubles as a useful reference tool. Anthony Demetre, chef-director, Putney Bridge, London Spices, Salt and Aromatics in the English Kitchen - Elizabeth David. Grub Street £12.99 ISBN 1-902304-66-7 (Reprint: originally published 1970)
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