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.

Rosemary Barron

My copy of Jane Grigson’s wonderful book, Good Things, is now in five parts. Its dull, amber pages are curled inside a paper cover that’s almost unreadable and its spine is in pieces. In the 37 years I’ve owned it, I think I’ve made every recipe, some of them dozens of times. My 1968 copy of The Art of  Charcuterie is doing a little better – it’s only in two pieces, and opens at my favourite recipe, cassoulet.  How can I thank someone who has given me so much pleasure for such a long time?

I did once have the opportunity to thank Jane.  We met in San Francisco, at the home of the inestimable Mary Risley, owner of Tante Marie’s Cooking School.  But I’ve an uncomfortable feeling that I didn’t make clear my appreciation, or tell her how much I enjoyed her writing and her recipes. My excuse is that I was young. I was probably also tongue-tied, for I was thrilled to meet the author of a book that I loved.  If I’d know then of all the pleasure that I had ahead of me – the hundreds and hundreds of meals I’ve enjoyed because of her – I wonder what I’d have said.

Jane’s books are on an easily-reachable, well-used bookshelf, where I keep the books with recipes I trust.  It’s the place I go to whenever I want to make something special, something good.  Her books inspire me, and they are the first ones I reach for when I want more information on an ingredient or cooking technique.  I’m still learning from them, and I’m still enjoying every minute I use them.  Thank you, Jane.