In his obituary of Jane Grigson, the distinguished author and editor of the Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson, wrote that she bequeathed “to the English-speaking world a legacy of fine writing on food and cookery for which no exact parallel exists…She won for herself this wide audience because she was above all a friendly writer…. the most companionable presence in the kitchen.”
On opening one of Jane’s books you are immediately captivated by her writing style and her warm character, her generosity with what she knows or has discovered. Her books are both personal and authoritative, whether describing the vast harvests of herring caught around Britain in the nineteenth century, or walking through the mysterious, damp darkness of mushroom caves in France, or remembering the unexpected joy of picking perfectly ripe, warm fruit, the reader soon falls under her spell. Jane weaves a web of poetry and history, literary reference, biographical anecdote and horticultural detail, her writing sharpened now and again by brisk opinions that are as refreshing as light rain after a summer drought. Jane writes not only about domestic cooking – her work contains thousands of recipes – and its challenges and surprises but also the sensual pleasure of eating which she always sees as a celebration of life itself.
After writing her final book on food, Jane Grigson reflected that cookery writing was “almost a form of autobiography. It’s been my way of finding out why I’m on this earth, and adding something to the sum of human happiness.”
In this, Jane Grigson succeeded beyond her furthest desires.
Charcuterie and French Pork Cookery
First published in 1967 by Michael Joseph
Jane Grigson’s first book on food was the culmination of four years’ dedicated research. It is a truly comprehensive guide to the cooking and curing of the pig from snout to tail with hundreds of interesting and delicious French recipes. Few books exist on this subject and this is one of the finest, now regarded as a kitchen classic.
“It could be said that European civilization – and Chinese civilization too – has been founded on the pig. Easily domesticated, omnivorous household and village scavenger, clearer of scrub and undergrowth, devourer of forest acorns, yet content with a sty – and delightful when cooked or cured , from his snout to his tail.
Charcuterie and French Pork Cookery….Sausage, saucisse, saucisson, derive ultimately from the Latin salsus, salted, probably by way of a late Latin word salsicia, something prepared by salting. The Romans are, in fact, the first recorded sausage makers, their intention being – as the derivation suggests – to preserve the smaller parts and scraps of the pig for winter eating. Though unwise to say so in a Frenchman’s hearing, the Italians are still the supreme producers of dried and smoked sausages. They use beef, as well as pork, but not usually donkey as some Frenchmen firmly believe.”