What do you read while travelling in France? A stack of novels, a French phrase book – and Elizabeth David’s French Provincial Cooking. My holidays normally involve dragging at least one cookbook of the country about with me, often with a relevant Lonely Planet World Food guide. World Food France is out of print, unfortunately, but I grabbed the last copy of the ED book at work as I ran out the door on the last day.
Although we didn’t push ourselves to travel too far, there were still hours spent in the Astra, driving to and from the boat at Roscoff, various campsites and a side-trip to St-Emilion, all made much more manageable by ED’s entertainingly opinionated and self-assured writing. While the Husband and the Teacher drove and navigated, I read about the cooking of various regions, perused lists of French terminology for techniques and ingredients and inspired a pre-late-lunch appetite by poring over descriptions of Oeufs sur la Plat, Blettes à la Crème and Pommes au Beurre.
Back home now, but ED’s writing has lost none of its inspiration. The vegetables and eggs chapters, especially, have lots of ideas to play around with: I’ve cooked her Endives au Beurre since I came home and La Pipérade was especially good to feed the boys while camping. I still have to work my way through the last part of the book, the fish section is particularly appealing at the moment as I’ve gotten some fantastic pollard from my fishing-loving Kildorrery Cousin. If you’re travelling to France at any stage – or if you just want to evoke the food of the countryside – French Provincial Cooking is the book for you.