12 March, 2007

ACofCB Part VI: The Encyclopedia of World Cookery by Elizabeth Campbell

Published by Spring Books in 1958, this book was one of the few that my mother had, and my grandmother. For some reason this gave me the idea that everyone had it, which is plainly wrong. I found my copy in a second-hand bookshop in Norwich. If you want to get it then try Abebooks as it certainly isn't in print.

And when you read it, you will see why. I have a lot of affection for this book. It has some completely disgusting recipes in it. It predates food processors, blenders. The countries chosen are idiosyncratic to say the least by today's standards of what is in food fashion. No Thailand or any South East Asia at all, but Canada, Holland, Switzerland and South Africa get whole chapters to themselves. Not that I have anything against those countries but... South America is dismissed in just one chapter - the entire continent. The Indian chapter is particularly funny as it predates Madhur Jaffrey and relies heavily on "curry powder". Very Raj in its recipes (Mulligatawny soup and Kedgeree). Most gross recipe is probably Banana Beef Steak from Australia and New Zealand.

And yet, I still use this book. The English puddings are brilliant and simple. The Austrian sponge is a family stand-by I used to do when I was a teenager. And the Italian stuffing for Roast Turkey (liver, pears, chestnuts, prunes) is much lighter than traditional English ones and much nicer. You wouldn't use it for the authentic ethnic cooking experience (Pork Vindaloo anyone?!?) but for desserts and cakes it is very reliable.


GURU MUG said...

I just got this book today as inherited thing of an airlines catering operation in charge who is dead almost 4 years ago.
I don't know what to do with this book. may be after reading the above blog I would through it. but recipes never get old they reamin IN fashion if we modify or bring little bit changes.I say so because I myself a food scientist and have ample know how of culinary science.

Eliane said...

Don't throw it out. I love this book and it is a wonderful document of a particular world view at a particular time. And as I said, I do still use it for certain things - sorry if you got the wrong impression.

But I still don't think I've going to do the banana beef steak recipe even if I adapted it!