Remembering Jane

Jane Grigson’s friends and admirers share their personal memories, explain why her work was a source of inspiration and reflect on her legacy.

Barbara Santich

I met Jane only once, in 1986, when I wanted to write a profile on her and her books for Australian Gourmet Traveller. We had coffee somewhere in Covent Garden and talked for about 90 minutes. It was hardly an interview – she was such an easy person to converse with. Through her books I felt I’d known her for many years, and was delighted to discover that the author of these books was exactly the person sitting opposite me. Of her books, I wrote ‘Their charm comes from their felicitous blend of personal experience, anecdote and erudition … she has the happy knack of knowing what people want to read, what they want to learn about, before they themselves realise it.’ I appreciated her plain speaking, her commonsense and logic, the curiosity which drove her to explore and understand the fundamentals of a cuisine rather than simply praise the end-products. And it was same desire for knowledge that prompted her to turn the tables and start questioning me: What did Aboriginals eat? How did they cook it?