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.
Observer Guide to British Cookery
First published in 1984 by Michael Joseph
“One of the best things to eat in Britain is a top-quality pork pie. Perhaps I’ve been unlucky, but I have not eaten one since the small Langroyd Pie Company at Langham, south-east of Melton, closed in 1972. We bought their pies by post from the Anne of Cleves café at Melton Mowbray, after a chance visit in the late Fifties. There may, there must surely be butchers somewhere in the region making pies worth eating, but it has not been my fortune to find them – there or anywhere else.
….A pleasure of going back to the north again was tea at Betty’s in Harrogate, a place of elegant art nouveau twirls, good cakes, unique sizzling rabbits and deep curd tarts: you can have Bronte fruit cake and Wensleydale cheese, too.”