Jane Grigson’s friends and admirers share their personal memories, explain why her work was a source of inspiration and reflect on her legacy.
I never met Jane Grigson face to face but she and I became good friends in about 1987. I had just emerged from a particularly gruelling period at work, had established some kind of a routine with child care, my husband had said he didn’t want to eat meat anymore, and I thought it was time I learned to cook properly. Someone suggested I read Jane’s books; from that day to this Jane and I have been on first name terms.
It was the whiting in orange sauce that did it. I couldn’t quite believe that a rather boring fish – my grandmother used to feed it to the cat – and rather bitter oranges could produce something special, but it did sound promising, mostly because Jane’s prose. The preamble to the recipe told of a search for scallops that turned into a search for whiting, and of the winter oranges where, ‘one of the great pleasures of existence is to observe the changing seasons and celebrate them in one’s diet’. I was hooked, the meal was, though I say it myself, a triumph, and Jane and I have been together ever since.
I may venture into the middle east, the far east, north Africa, and elsewhere, but when I need to be re-charged in the kitchen it is Jane that I turn to, and she has never, ever let me down.