For Elizabeth David, summer fare meant fresh, seasonal food-recipes that could be prepared quickly and savoured slowly, from Gnocchi alla Genovese ('simply an excuse for eating pesto') to La Poule au Pot to Gooseberry Fool. Her 1955 classic work, now reissued in a handsome, attractively priced hardback edition, includes an overview of herbs as well as chapters on impromptu cooking for holidays and picnics. Divided into chapters on Soups, Salads, Eggs, Fish, Meat, Poultry and Game, Vegetables, and Sweets, it contains recipes from all over the world. Summer Cooking is a witty, precise companion for feasting in the warmer months - every bit as unexpected and enchanting to read today as it was 50 years ago. But the purest thrill of Summer Cooking, as in all of her books, is the pleasure her food delivers and the graceful way her prose captures the reader's delight.
Elizabeth David lived and kept house in France, Italy, Greece, Egypt and India, learning the local dishes and cooking them in her own kitchens. Her first book, Mediterranean Food, appeared in 1950. In 1951 French Country Cooking was published and in 1954, after a year of research in Italy, Italian Food. This was followed by Summer Cooking (1955), French Provincial Cooking (1960) and Spices, Salt and Aromatics in the English Kitchen (1970). In 1973 Mrs David severed all connection with the business trading under her name and concentrated on study and experiment for English Bread and Yeast Cookery, for which she won the 1977 Glenfiddich Writer of the Year Award. An Omelette and a Glass of Wine, a selection of her journalistic work, was published in 1984 and Harvest of the Cold Months, her book on the use of ice and the making of ices was edited by Jill Norman and published posthumously in 1994. She was honoured with many prizes, made Chevalier de l'Ordre du Merite Agricole by the French in 1977, awarded the OBE in 1976 and the CBE in 1986. Honorary doctorates were conferred on her by the universities of Essex and Bristol. In 1982 she was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. She died on 22 May 1992.