Sunday, 30 October 2011
Elizabeth David knew nothing about cooking...
The reviewer was somebody called Lucie Marion, who happened to be French (nose out of joint, perhaps, at feeling her home turf was being invaded?), and had recently published one recipe book, and had another one on the way at the time of writing. Could it be that she didn't relish the competition? Not that her work and La David's bear much resemblance to each other - I have a copy of her second one, The Home Chef, which focuses quite a lot on the constraints of cooking 'in these difficult times' when butter was still unavailable, and fingerbowls had not yet emerged from the deep storage they'd gone into at the start of the war. Lots of household hints, as well, such as keeping a bowl of oatmeal beside the sink at all times as a drying agent for one's hands, in order to avoid them ever looking red or, perish the thought, chapped! And a fundamental premise for Ms Marion was that there should always be a quarter of an hour free at the end of preparing dinner, during which time, the hostess (or mother, or housewife) could compose herself, change her frock, and powder her nose, before presenting herself once more to her guests or family. Somehow, I can't imagine Elizabeth David ever actually using the word 'frock'.
As for what La David made of the review, history appears not to relate. Given the ironclad Grande Dame image that she presented in later years, it's hard to think she would have bothered very much with Lucie's pointed criticisms, though. She-who-must-be-obeyed in Belforte once had a run-in with ED when she had her shop in the Kings Road, many years ago, and although I can't remember exactly what the bone of contention was, I do recall that SWMBO came out of it distinctly the worst. Which says much.
I tried to find out what happened to Lucie Marion downhill of 1951. Without much success. In all, she published three books, all much at the same time, in the early fifties, and then seems to have disappeared without a trace. Not even a Wikipedia entry - which, in this day and age, is almost eery. I can only hope she went back to France, where she wouldn't have had to watch with increasing bitterness as the 'decorative' output of Mrs David reached out to an ever larger and more appreciative audience over the years...
Pintade au Chou
Petits pots a la crème au Chocolat