This is not a modern recipe book. There are no pictures. A lot of the quantities are sketchy, and some of the writing is about the history of dishes, references to other cultures. But this is a classic. I was so pleased it was reprinted and is still available. It conjures the resonance of meals past, it brings to mind flavours and atmospheres, it tells you how to prepare ingredients just so. The adverbs are well chosen, and it encourages experimentation.
It was first published in 1960, her fifth book. She lived in France with a French family whilst studying at the Sorbonne, and when she returned to the UK, she set herself to learn how to cook.
The first paragraph tells you about her love of food and of discovering how to cook. ‘Staying in Toulouse a few years ago, I bought a little cookery book on a stall in the Marche aux puces held every Sunday morning in the Cathedral Square. It was a tattered little volume, and its cover attracted me.’
It is still available widely, describing how to cook simple French food well, and how to attempt the more complex dishes with a bit of knowledge.