As the Australian MasterChef contestants make their way back from their surprise trip to London and Paris, this article pays tribute to the fact that it is now 50 years since the first publicatioon of Elizabeth David's French Provincial Cooking. It is actually sixty years since the English got reconnected with food courtesy of her writings, starting with Mediterranean Food.
I had to wait till 1966 until my mother discovered the cuisine of Europe and returned from a trip with a clutch of David's books. These are books that explain more the joy of constructing and sharing the food, than the techniques of achieving it. As such they make great partners with Mastering the Art of French Cooking, which has gained renewed popularity off the back of the film Julie and Julia.
One of the joys though of cooking in Australia is that so many of the ingredients still apparently considered quaint and imported in Britain are available in plentiful supply in Australia. Many of my generation can still remember the kind of cuisine that is referred to in the article as being the standard fare. The beauty of both Child and David is that they thought that this was food we should make in our homes, not leave to dining experiences.