FOOD WITH THE FAMOUS by Jane Grigson

FOOD WITH THE FAMOUS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Grigson's ""Famous"" are not media celebrities, thank goodness, but ten historical personages who left substantial evidence of their encounters with food. Most, however, left no written recipes; in these cases, Grigson generally provides a sampling of dishes from contemporary cookbooks or family recipe-books. But there are also more tangible legacies. Alexandre Dumas père published an actual work of gastronomy, the Grand Dictionnaire de Cuisine (from which several recipes are given here). Lord Shaftesbury (the reformer, not the essayist) rejoiced in a wife of formidable spirit, whose recipe-book testifies to the cautious cosmpolitanism of the Victorian palate (""German"" barley soup with cream and eggs, a most unorthodox ""Moussaka à la Hongroise"") as well as the nobility of toasted English cheese. The 17th-century diarist John Evelyn is an endless fount of information about the vegetables of his day and the ways in which they were cooked. Grigson's leisurely quotation-studded essays are almost too tantalizing; eventually one begins to miss the factual data (accounts of recipe-adaptations, etc.) provided by writers like Elizabeth David and Alan Davidson. (And, be advised, British measurements and terminology prevail throughout.) Nonetheless it is a privilege to make the culinary acquaintance of such observers as Sydney Smith (of the celebrated ""Poet's Salad""), Jane Austen, Proust, Monet, and the 18th-century diarist James Woodforde. But the book's most irresistible moments are furnished by two polar opposites--the earthy goulu Emile Zola and the aristocratic experimenter Thomas Jefferson. A charming compilation.

Pub Date: March 17th, 1980
Publisher: Atheneum