Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Granger, Grigson and Glasse : three very different cookery writers

[Posted 2 May 2007]

Also in today's blog

Richard Charkin's site statistics

First off, a thank you to everyone who used the comment button to wish me well.

From Australia, another Anne wrote – "Welcome back Anne - as you are a part of my daily routine, I have missed your insights into new books that I might read.

As an Australian who has known about Donna Hay for years, I am pleased that you have discovered her cookery style. I am not much of a cook, but my sister is fantastic. One of her favourite Australian cooks is Bill Granger who is more of the personality type but if you get a chance look him up. He has a regular coloumn in the Sydney Morning Herald and if you enter the search site at you will see a number of his recipes."

So I shot off to the SMH and found a piece by Granger about tomato sauce in which he writes "One of my favourites meals using the sauce is bistecca alla pizzaiola (grilled steak with tomato sauce) to which I add oregano and dried chilli flakes. You can also stir the sauce through pasta and serve it with torn mozzarella and roughly pitted olives. The other night I used some leftover roasted tomato sauce cooked down with green beans and served it with roast chicken. Tomato sauce is a true kitchen staple and, as you have suggested, it should not be limited to pizza."

Then I found Bill Granger's website. Obviously the new generation of male cookery writers are not as paunchy as their predecessors.

Another Australian, Treva, wrote - "So pleased you are back at your desk, Anne. I was starting to worry when your blog didn't appear. I'm afraid Donna Hay is a bit too minimalist for me. As another Australian, I've been familiar with her work for quite a few years. I'm afraid I prefer my cookery writers to add a little bit of anecdote to their recipes. Past favourites have been Jane Grigson & Josceline Dimblebey, and on television I like my cookery experts to be just a little bit over the top such as the Two Fat Ladies and Nigella Lawson. At the moment Australia has an ABC TV cooking series "The Cook & the Chef" which is just the right blend of personality & information."

I'm a Grigson fan too, Treva. I've just been to the kitchen to make a cup of tea and to fetch my treasured copy of Jane Grigson's Vegetable Book, first published by Michael Joseph in 1978 and by Penguin in 1980.

It's dedicated to her husband "who introduced me to John Evelyn and gardenage" and below the dedication are two quotes.

"Every book is, in an intimate sense, a circular letter to the friends of him who writes it. They alone take his meaning; they find the private message, assurances of love and expressions of gratitude, dropped for them in every corner." R L Steveenson

"Most people spoil garden things by over boiling them. All things green should have a little crispness, for if they are overboil'd they neither have sweetness or beauty." Hannah Glasse

Jane Grigson

For those of you who haven't discovered Jane Grigson, at Penguin's website I found this –

"Jane Grigson was brought up in the north-east of England, where there is a strong tradition of good eating, but it was not until many years later, when she began to spend three months of each year in France, that she became really interested in food. Charcuterie and French Pork Cookery was the result, exploring the wonderful range of cooked meat products on sale in even the smallest market towns. This book has also been translated into French, a singular honour for an English cookery writer.
After taking an English degree at Cambridge in 1949, Jane Grigson worked in art galleries and publishers' offices, and then as a translator. In 1966 she shared the John Florio prize (with Father Kenelm Foster) for her translation of Beccaria's Of Crime and Punishment. It was in 1968 that Jane Grigson began her long association with the Observer Magazine for whom she wrote right up until her untimely death in 1990; Good Things and Food With The Famous are all based on these highly successful series. In 1973, Fish Cookery was published by the Wine and Food Society, followed by The Mushroom Feast (1975), a collection of recipes for cultivated, woodland, field and dried mushrooms. She received both the Glenfiddich Writer of the Year Award and the André Simon Memorial Fund Book Award for her Vegetable Book (1978) and for her Fruit Book (1982), and was voted Cookery Writer of the Year in 1977 for English Food. A compilation of her best recipes, The Enjoyment of Food, was published in 1992 with an introduction by her daughter, the cookery writer Sophie Grigson. Most of Jane Grigson's books are published in Penguin.
Jane Grigson died in March 1990. In her obituary for the Independent, Alan Davidson wrote that 'Jane Grigson left to the English-speaking world a legacy of fine writing on food and cookery for which no exact parallel exists ... She won to herself this wide audience because she was above all a friendly writer ... the most companionable presence in the kitchen; often catching the imagination with a deftly chosen fragment of history or poetry, but never failing to explain the "why" as well as the "how" of cookery'. Jane Grigson was married to the poet and critic the late Geoffrey Grigson."

Hannah Glasse

The Independent newspaper has a good piece on Glasse here.

Richard Charkin's site statistics

Richard Charkin, CEO of Macmillan, whose site I visit most mornings, is complaining that "In April we had a disappointing 68227 visits. This is down from March's record 81424 bringing the total visits to 689184. Any ideas for boosting traffic (apart from the obvious ones) gratefully received. I'm returning to London this morning, just another seventeen hours travelling. Thank goodness for books."

I don't envy the man his life which seems to be spent flying round the world. Even travelling first class with plenty of good books to read, it must become awfully wearing. I've been flying since 1951 when it was a still an exciting adventure, but alas that time has long gone. Though I still like people-watching in airports.


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