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An Omelette and a Glass of Wine (Cook's Classic Library) Paperback – March 1, 1997

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Editorial Reviews Review

An Omelette and a Glass of Wine, by Elizabeth David, is one of the first books that the Lyons Press (formerly Lyons and Burford) published as part of the Cook's Classic Library series. It offers 62 articles written by David between 1955 and 1984 for a variety of publications. Many of these pieces, such as "I'll Be with You in the Squeezing of a Lemon," from 1969--about cooking with lemons--barely show their age. But even if they did, you wouldn't care, because of the rich store of information that David shares and the literary grace with which she imparts it.

"Foods of Legend" is a choice example. This essay is astonishingly timely in its discourse on a chef feeling compelled to elevate a humble country dish into haute cuisine. David bases her story on Master Chef August Escoffier's recomposition, over a century ago, of a Provençal favorite: potatoes baked with artichokes onto Carré d'Agneau Mistral, which involved adding truffles and rack of lamb.

Some articles include recipes, but for the most part this is a volume nicely sized to curl up with or to take on a trip.


"Savor her book in a comfortable chair, with a glass of sherry."--Bon Appetit

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Product Details

  • Series: Cook's Classic Library
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Lyons Press; 1st edition (March 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1558215719
  • ISBN-13: 978-1558215719
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #771,715 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

54 of 55 people found the following review helpful By on April 20, 1998
Format: Paperback
British author Elizabeth David belongs with Julia Child and M.F.K. Fisher as a culinary giant of her generation. Her cookbooks were not haphazard collections of recipes, but profoundly researched tomes dedicated to the purity of authentic cuisines, the ageless pleasure of good eating. An OMELETTE AND A GLASS OF WINE is, perhaps, the most personal of all her works. It is a compilation of three decades of her columns for various magazines -- but, more important, a book of her personal quest for wonderful food. The pilgrimage took her from her native England, to sunny France and Italy, to Greece, to Egypt, to the evocative flavors of bygone cities and ages. The essays take us to the quais of southern France in search of sardines, the kitchens of Italy and France, to little restaurants that exist no more, and to gardens that, like Paradise, are a remote memory in a modern world. But the book is perfect in evoking, recapturing, recreating a cuisine in the context of the life it is a part of. Take for instance her old friend, Norman Douglas. He was a character passionate about food. In eating a fig, he knew the exact garden in which it was grown, the tree, the branch it had been plucked from, the tempests and perfect sunny days that had visited it throughout its life. And for Elizabeth David, the search for the authentic sometimes led to the simplest places. The title essay has to do with the search for the perfect omelette -- and finally tracking down the famous Mere Poulard's authentic recipe...consisting only of eggs and a little butter. The glass of wine with the omelette is a kind of completion, the expression of the perfection of life lying in a kind of omelette and a glass of white wine.Read more ›
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Dianne Foster HALL OF FAME on May 17, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is my first Elizabeth David book, and I intend to read many more. I've been a fan of M.F.K. Fisher for many years and read and enjoyed her books thoroughly. David's writing is somewhat similar--though not as personal--at least AN OMELETTE AND A GLASS OF WINE is not terribly personal. Still, David shares many aspects of her work and travel that allowed me to feel connected to her in a personal way.
David was hired to write food/cooking/dining articles for various print media and paid very little initially. Her job involved traveling in France and Italy, visiting various inns and restaurants and markets--which she apparently enjoyed. I started to title my review "born to late" as I would have liked her job. Europe in the 1960s--especially France and Italy must have been wonderful (well my husband says it was and he lived there then). Imagine eating French cooking for a living!! Ah yes, another vicarious reading experience.
David tells of her travels to "job" locations--why I think this book is part travelog. Sometimes she has been preceded by Henry James or Marcel Proust, but most often by some obscure person who passed through in the mid-1800s or earlier and recorded their experiences for posterity. David describes the meals she and others have eaten, as well as food preparation (growing, transporting, cooking). Her book includes photographs of a few famous chefs. In most she cases provides information about recipes and lists ingredients--details that might help the reader replicate a dish. She warns the reader it is impossible to replicate a dish exactly owing to many conditions, not the least of which is the quality of the basic ingredients. She finds it amusing when a recipe is touted as being "old" and includes a modern ingredient like margarine.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Just a reader on March 23, 2007
Format: Paperback
I've always been scared to buy ED's books.

Why? Because most reviewers go out of their way to point out how intelligent she is (true), how ruthless she is in terms of staying authentic, how she fills her books with references to obscure and elite sources. She always seems to be described as less approachable then most food-writers, with a sharp wit and an even sharper tongue.

To that I say...


She's not an elite-writer, she's simply a very smart woman with a deep love for food. She doesn't seem rigid or overly strict with her recipies at all. She just seems like a lovely entertaining expert on all things edible, explaining why things taste better when prepared a certain way, making you ponder the truth in what she writes, and making you realise she's telling you things you should have already figured out on your own. She's a teacher, but a very loving one. Elegant without being prissy, experienced and willing to share.

I wish I had bought this book much earlier. It's filled with wonderful essays, thoughts and descriptions. It made me hungry and happy at the same time! If you like a book with more substance then just a HUGE index of 10.000 recipies -like some cookbooks are- then this is perfect.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 13, 1998
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When I first read this collection of articles written for various London papers and magazines, I couldn't see why Elizabeth David is so revered in the world of food writing; later my memory showed me. This book lingers in your mind like those taste memories it evokes. The best pieces in this book alternate their focus between rare foods (bruscandoli, wild hops shoots harvested for a brief moment at the end of spring in Venice) and easily obtainable ones (an omelette and a glass of wine). At either extreme, David evokes not only an interest in her subject but also a new appreciation of our own memories and new experiences. She defines "the best kind of cookery writing" as "courageous, courteous, adult. It is creative in the true sense of that ill-used word, creative because it invites the reader to use his own critical and inventive faculties, sends him out to make discoveries, form his own opinions, observe things for himself, instead of slavishly accepting what the books tell him"; her own writing lives up to these criteria. Appropriately, then, this collection contains few recipes to "slavishly" accept but instead offers many ideas to entertain.
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