I have two big “thank yous” to start this review. First to the author Elisabeth Luard and secondly to Grub Street publishers who have presented me with this amazing book which I have so wanted to review. European Peasant Cookery should be recognised as an “important” work and I am sure it will be sought out by passionate cooks.
If you are a Food TV fan you might not have heard of Elisabeth Luard. She has been only seldom seen on the small screen but she is one of the most respected food writers. Respected by chefs, cooks and food journalists, and there can surely be no higher accolade than to be well regarded by one’s peers.
Elisabeth has an almost poetic style of writing. If you enjoy Elizabeth David you will be equally enchanted by the books of this other Elisabeth. Every paragraph reflects culinary experience and presents detailed information and advice. No corners are cut and nothing is omitted. You’ll read this book rather than flick through its pages. The anecdotes will bring vivid images of lively markets, sunshine and real people. Not “farmers” markets but markets populated by those who understand quality ingredients and accept nothing less. Those are often simple ingredients which are later transformed into the most splendid of feasts.
European Peasant Cookery has over 500 recipes from 25 countries. It’s a weighty tome but there is no padding. This is quality food writing from cover to cover. The recipes are divided by food type and include such things as Reindeer and Kid (No, dear reader, it’s not a small child but rather a young goat.)
Each recipe has a little history and indicates the country of origin. It’s peasant cooking so these dishes are not technically difficult nor will they require you to spend a fortune on a battery of kitchen gadgets. For the most part it’s all quite simple. Buy the best produce you can find and you are almost assured of a terrific meal.
Many of the dishes are what we now think of as classic although we could equally describe them as dishes that have stood the test of time. They are still with us because they are delicious and simple and have been popular for generations. This is a collection of recipes that work.
France is well represented as you would expect but let’s not be food snobs. Every one of those 25 countries has contributed something noteworthy. Beef and Beer Carbonade is a rich stew from Belgium, Pickled Vegetables is from Bulgaria, Bean Stew with Serrano Ham from Spain, and Lancashire Hot Pot from England – and it’s appropriate to mention that there are a good many entries from the UK.
I have been looking forward to reading European Peasant Cookery and it has been as wonderful as I had hoped. It’s quite remarkable food literature, and great value.
European Peasant Cookery
Author: Elisabeth Luard
Published by: Grub Street
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018