WERTHEIMER: Let’s just talk for a minute about Elizabeth David and especially about the book Summer Cooking. I think that it is a classic. That’s how I think of it - fun to read and fun to cook from, fun to sort of use for ideas. Do you think that book stands the test of time? I mean as a professional cook, what do you think?
GRIGSON: Oh, I think totally. Chefs, food writers and cooks right across the world, I think, still refer back to all of Elizabeth David’s books - Summer Cooking, Mediterranean Cooking, Italian Cooking - because there’s an authority there and a clarity. You know, Elizabeth David, she writes very clearly. She’s quite sharp. Sometimes it reads a little old-fashioned but there is that clarity, and that absolute certainty that this is a recipe that will taste fantastic.
—yesterday’s NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday had guest host Linda Wertheimer talking with English chef, food writer, and TV host Sophie Grigson about Elizabeth David’s Summer Cooking. If you’ve never read an Elizabeth David cookbook, you’ll be surprised at how different they are from contemporary ones. For one thing, there are very few clearly defined measurements. Here’s one recipe from Summer Cooking, picked completely at random:
As grouse shooting season starts on 12 August, grouse can be counted as summer food. Young grouse are at their best wrapped in a piece of bacon and very carefully roasted, served either hot or cold, but in either case without game chips, which are usually sodden and always dull, and no wonder, as they usually come out of a packet.
Old grouse, sold in the shops as ‘casserole grouse’, are unusually so dry and have so powerful a flavor that they are all but uneatable, however carefully and patiently simmered. They can, however, make quite an acceptable dish if first marinated and then stewed in wine, and stock from grouse can be used in several very delicious ways, notably for stewing mushrooms; a little added to a dish of eggs sur le plat also makes a lovely dish, and the beef stuffed with chopped grouse and stewed in the stock [another recipe in the book] is quite excellent. These are really dishes for those people who have their own game to be used up, as few people will care to buy a casserole grouse simply in order to use the stock, although as far the mushroom dish is concerned it is really worth the trouble and expense.
Lady Clark’s recipe for a grouse pudding [also in the book] is also worth a trial; the idea of using old game birds to flavour beef is fairly common one in old English cookery.