JOANNA'S FOOD: family cooking, from scratch, every day

Thursday, November 17, 2005

A little light reading for a cold dark winter day

The weather here has suddenly turned cold, we've had two or even three frosts this week, so I need to go out and deal with the blackened foliage of my dahlias. Not an inviting prospect. Instead, I've been reading essays by Elizabeth David, in Is there a Nutmeg in the House, and in An Omelette and a Glass of Wine. Inspiring ...

I'm almost ashamed to say what it has inspired me to do today - there were strawberries at the market, so I am going to make Sir Walter Raleigh's recipe for "cordial water" which he regarded as medicine for cleansing the blood, whatever that means. It's a summery equivalent to sloe gin, with strawberries and vodka. The only thing that stops it being really embarrassing is that the strawberries were grown in Berkshire (the next county) rather than air-freighted half way across the world.

I'm going to soak 1.4kg of strawberries in a litre of vodka, probably for 3-4 days, and then add some sugar. ED says she regretted omitting sugar. Can't imagine how it will taste, but it will make a good Christmas drink, and anyway I forgot to pick sloes last month.

Every time I pick up a book of Elizabeth David's, I'm entranced. She writes so well, and has such interesting things to say about food, particularly its history. I nearly always end up cooking one or two dishes. All the same, I have one major reservation about her, which is that I can't help feeling that her strong emphasis on food from France and Italy was partly responsible for the collapse of interest in traditional British food in the 1950s and 60s. On the other hand, we are a trading nation with long-standing culinary influences from abroad (think curry/kedgeree rather than "nasty greasy foreign muck") , & it was a time when our population was diversifying, with all that that meant for our country's cookery. And although she wrote a wonderful book about British baking, that came later, and was never so popular as the earlier books covering Mediterranean foods. Still, we can't lay all the blame at her door, and I suppose we should be pleased at the revival of the best of British cookery which has taken place over the past few years.

The other thing I did today in an effort to keep myself indoors was to add a counter to my blog. It took about three minutes.

No comments: