A History of English Food by Clarissa Dickson Wright
On the river Thames between Mayfair and the city of London, the Savoy closed in December 2007 for extensive renovations and after a 200 million restoration reopened in October 2010.
One of the capital’s top hotels, the Savoy was the ideal location for the launch of A History of English Food by Clarissa Dickson Wright.
Work began in 2006 when Nigel Wilcockson of Random House suggested the idea to Clarissa, unfortunately, soon after starting the book Clarissa became ill with pleurisy, which then led to complications and she only resumed writing A History of English Food again last autumn. This historical insight into English food was, however, well worth waiting for.
Clarissa an English celebrity chef found fame alongside Jennifer Paterson as one half of the much-loved TV cooking partnership, Two Fat Ladies. She is a businesswoman and formera barrister. Having trained as a lawyer, at 21 she became the youngest woman to be called to the bar.
Clarissa Theresa Philomena Aileen Mary Josephine Agnes Elsie Trilby Louise Esmerelda Dickson-Wright, her rather full title, was born in St John’s Wood in London. The youngest of four children, she was endowed with no less than 11 forenames by her mother, an Austrian heiress and her father, Arthur Dickson Wright, a surgeon to the Royal Family, who also had a passion for pigs. Arthur kept pigs near the family home; his favourite like his daughter bore the name Esmerelda
Clarissa’s mother died in 1975, her father a few years later, leaving Clarissa in a deep depression. She drank heavily for the following 12 turbulent years, spending the majority of her £2.8 million inheritance. Clarissa eventually settled in Edinburgh running the Cooks Book Shop.
Her passion for history and food led to an autobiography, Spilling the Beans, a Sunday Times number one bestseller, and other books, including Clarissa and the Countryman, Clarissa and the Countryman Sally Forth, and The Game Cookbook.
Now at the age of 64, Clarissa clearly enjoyed treating the Savoy audience to tales of her childhood, jaunts around the countryside in a motorbike sidecar with her dear friend Jane, her passion for gin, and culinary facts, blended with her natural wit and charm.
“As a youngster I remember reading to our cook, a portly woman,” says Clarissa. “I spent the majority of my time downstairs reading recipes out to her. This is where my inspiration began. If I wasn’t in the kitchen you could guarantee I would be found in the local shops, the butchers, bakers, the fishmongers. I found them all fascinating.”
A History of English Food takes readers on a journey from the 1150s a significant moment in our culinary history, when, Clarissa says major developments in what the British ate and the way they ate it began to take shape. From there it travels through time up to modern English food, with a review from historian John Burnett about English food at the end of 1970s.
Clarissa chronicles types of food that people have eaten over the ages, good and bad and looks at the shifting influences on English food as new immigrant communities have made their contribution to British diets.
She tells the stories of those who have shaped public taste – the chefs, cookery book writers and gourmets. Above all, she gives a vivid sense of what it was like to sit down to the meals of previous ages, whether an eighteenth-century labourer's breakfast, a twelve-course Victorian banquet or a frugal lunch during the Second World War.
This is an
entertaining, historical and fully illustrated book, shot through with
Clarissa's characteristic wit and her eye for detail.
Courtesy of the book publishers Random
House, Women Talking would like
to offer one lucky reader the chance to win a copy of A History of English
Food valued at £25
To enter all you need to do is answer the following question:
Name another book Clarissa has written?
Send your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org ensuring you place the words A History of English Food in the Subject Header and also include your Women Talking username with your submission.
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