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Elizabeth David Week 15(2)
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Elizabeth David Week 15(2)

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  • Elisabeth responded to the Bohemian freedom of theatrical life and she felt a tremendous release. Here she learned about hard drinking at post-performance parties and in long sessions at the pub, and discovered that she had a very strong head. She never once had a speaking part.
  • He talked about food because it mattered, because it was part of civilized life, to be enjoyed as profoundly as every other pleasure, such as art (which too many pretentious people revered).
  • In a furious revolt against that terrible, cheerless, heartless food, she wrote down descriptions of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cooking. Even to write words like apricot, olives and butter, rice and lemons, oil and almonds, produced comfort.
  • Transcript

    • 1. Elizabeth David: 1913 - 1992
      • Father was Rupert Gwynne and mother was Stella Ridley.
        • Rupert’s father was a miserly, controlling man who put restrictions on his will, limiting inheritance only to male lineage
      • Rupert married well – Stella was a rich woman of some lineage whose family was connected to the Conservative party
        • Rupert won a seat in parliament, lived in London part-time
        • Family home was in Wooton, Sussex
      • Rupert and Stella had 4 daughters and 1 infant son who died in childbirth
        • Elizabeth was born Dec. 26, 1913, second eldest
    • 2. Stella and Rupert Gwynne
    • 3. Rupert, Elizabeth, Felicit é , Stella, Diana, Priscilla – Rupert died 1924
    • 4. Wootton Manor, Sussex, England
    • 5. Elizabeth’s Theatrical Career
      • With Rupert deceased and no male heir, the family home in Wootton was being taken over by Rupert’s unmarried brother, Roland, who evicted the family
        • Priscilla married and moved to Malta; the two younger sister were farmed out to relatives
      • In 1933, Stella remarried and moved with her new husband to Jamaica
      • Against her mother’s wishes, Elizabeth joined the Oxford Repertory Company in 1932, then joined the Open Air theatre in 1933
    • 6. Elizabeth, the actress, Open Air Theatre *
      • Elisabeth responded to the Bohemian freedom of theatrical life and she felt a tremendous release. Here she learned about hard drinking at post-performance parties and in long sessions at the pub, and discovered that she had a very strong head. She never once had a speaking part.
    • 7. Charles Gibson Cowan
      • Writer, producer, actor
      • Both refused to accept constrictions of their social class
        • Elizabeth was trying to break free while still maintaining security of an influential family, indulgent bankers and account at Selfridges
      • Stella disapproved of the relationship – 1936 E. was sent off to her sister in Malta, then to Egypt
    • 8. 1937
      • Summer in south of France with friends, including 4 Oxford boyfriends
      • Spent their days in cafés or on the beach and drank well into the evening
      • Elizabeth stayed in Corsica alone, rooming with a humble family
        • “ Madame’s cooking was rough, generous, full of character and colour. Great dishes of ham and tomatoes, eggs and olives, plenty of salads and oil, huge hunks of bread, great bowls of ripe figs. I have never forgotten the very special taste of that food”
    • 9. The Voyage of the Evelyn Hope, 1938
      • Sailed across the English channel on July 8, 1938 with Charles Cowan
      • At Rouen, sailed up the Seine to Paris, then continued south through the Canal de Bourgogne (over 200 locks), through a tunnel in Côte d’Or to Dijon
      • Continuing south on Saône to Lyon, finally to Marseilles by early September
      • Then moored at Antibes, near Nice. It was here that ED met Norman Douglas – he 72, she 26
    • 10. Norman Douglas *
      • Author, traveller
      • The best teacher ED ever had
      • “ Look for what is true and authentic; see things as they are; be vigilant against the pretentious and the sham; above all, please yourself and take the consequences”
      • He was exceptional as “he talked about food at a time when educated people simply didn’t”
      • He talked about food because it mattered, because it was part of civilized life, to be enjoyed as profoundly as every other pleasure, such as art, music.
    • 11. Sailing around the War
      • Sailing south down Italian coast, arrested and yacht confiscated, accused of being spies
      • Under house arrest in Rome & Venice
      • Finally released and moved to Greece
      • To Egypt May 1941, ED employed as clerk in naval office, Charles took job w. a ship
      • Winter 1941, ED met Peter Laing, a Canadian officer – together until April 1943 when he returned to Toronto, injured
    • 12. Tony David
      • ED living in Cairo, working at Ministry of Information. Met Tony in Feb. 1944, he with British army in India
      • They married in Aug and in June 1945 he was posted to India
      • ED joined him in 6 months but she hated India
        • Colonial India: private clubs, stuffy parties, uptight society
        • Filthy kitchen in her flat
        • Food disappointing
        • Climate unbearable
    • 13. Back in England *
      • Post-war English food depressing
      • In a furious revolt against that terrible, cheerless, heartless food, she wrote down descriptions of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cooking. Even to write words like apricot, olives and butter, rice and lemons, oil and almonds, produced comfort.
      • ED began writing about food
        • Her articles first appeared in Harper’s and read like travel pieces. Editors found ED to be very professional, timely.
        • Published Mediterranean Food – June 1950. Her descriptions evoke a time and place, illuminate the approach to food in the Mediterranean region.
    • 14. Writing at the Kitchen Table
      • French Country cooking Oct. 1950
      • Spent most of 1952 in Italy, preparing notes for Italian Food
      • Norman Douglas died in Feb.
      • Italian Food published Nov. ’54
      • ‘ 56 & ’57 research in France for next book
      • French Provincial Cooking published in 1960
    • 15. Elizabeth David Ltd.
      • Opened 1965 with partners
      • She managed all the buying, hard-fisted control of stock
      • Initiated certain crazes like a vinegar “mother” – she would give a little piece to store patrons.
      • Specialized oils, cookware; ED held court in basement
      • By 1973, partners were in court, shop was closed
    • 16. Effect on British kitchens
      • E.D.’s kitchen was the centerpiece of her flat, dominated by a huge farmhouse table, surrounded by open cabinets stacked with terracotta and earthenware pots, cast iron pans.
      • Her shop was responsible for Le Creuset introducing its cast-iron pans in blue
      • Food photography changed: no faux food shots, only pictures of what she had actually cooked.
    • 17. 1964
    • 18. 1971 in France
    • 19. At Chez Panisse with Richard Olney 1986
    • 20. Late 80’s
    • 21. Feb. 22, 1994 Auction
      • After she died, the farmhouse table sold at auction for £1,100 and a colander for £320. The gastrocenti wanted a piece of her at any cost. The s ale netted £49,000
      • Auction room was packed; unbelievable crowd, the auctioneer was overwhelmed by volume of bids
      • People wanted something, anything, some keepsake
      • Bidders bought relics, fragments from someone they had never met but who had had such an effect on their lives
      • They wanted a piece of Elizabeth David forever