Friday, February 22, 2008

Elizabeth David's Table

"There are of course ways of making good food look especially beautiful. The colour, size, and shape of the serving dish is obviously important; food should never be crammed into too small a dish; serve rice and pilaffs on large shallow platters, not pressed into a deep glass casseroles. See that dishes are appropriate to the food. Peasant and country stews of beans or lentils, deep brown daubes of meat and game, onion and oil flavoured ragouts of pimentos or purple skinned aubergines lose some pf their particular charm (and also get cold) if transferred from the earthen pots in which they have been cooked..."
South Wind Through the Kitchen-pp49-50

Elizabeth David was an English food and writer. Born in 1913 she led a perapetetic life, living in Greece and traveling through the Mediterranean in her 20's. Depressed by the food of post-war Britain Elizabeth David began writing pieces on the fresh, produce driven food of the Mediterranean. She is one of my heroes (though I suspect that if you ever met her she would be difficult to get along with) Elizabeth David was a woman of strong opinions, and strong appetites. She is often praised for being responsible for inspiring British cooks to use fresh, untainted food, and quality French and Italian kitchen ware, which she sold in her shop in London.

Elizabeth David always wrote her books and cooked on a table she bought when she first settled down in London after the war. This table, along with the rest of her kitchen was sold at auction after her death. I'd love to have Elizabeth David's table. I feel as if somehow her courage, wit and creativity would have marinated this piece of furniture. Having a cup of tea at Elizabeth David's table would lead one's thoughts into unexplored byways bringing fresh, observations to the surface. But anyone's table could have been the scene of great inspiration, anyones old teacups the catalyst for exciting discovery. That is why I like second-hand things, and handmade things. It is important for me to be surrounded by the marks of others who have gone before. It connects me to my family, makes me part of a community both literal and metaphorical.

1 comment:

Peter said...

I attended the auction of Elizabeth David's kitchen contents - and was lucky enough to have a successful bid for one of her chopping boards (and the lot came with a couple of her wooden spoons and a few other bits and pieces, including her little blue egg-timer) - I still use the chopping board on a regular basis. My wife was terrified one day thinking that she had burned the chopping board on our stove - but I reassured her that it came that way from the auction. The item that I really wanted was the hare shaped terrine dish - but went for a very high price.

I love chopping on that board - like you I like to think ythere is a bit of ED "marinade" possibly her gin & tonics ...