Kitchen Essays by Agnes Jekyll

When a woman speaks passionately and articulately with a strong perspective and a sense of humor, it's best to sit back and just listen:

Too much effort given to material things entails neglect of spiritual ones, too little induces loss of temper, money, and health. Some rare spirits there are who may discipline themselves into indifference to creature comforts, who may write magical poetry on lumpy porridge, paint glorious portraits on indifferent eggs, lead armies to victory on bully beef—we salute them and pass on! But with those who, whilst lifting reverential eyes to the stars, yet know and love this kind, warm earth, we would take counsel awhile. It is not thought praiseworthy to wear nasty clothes, to have ugly flowers in the garden, dull books on the table, comfortless furniture in the home, and horrid pictures on the wall. Why, then, are God's good gifts of food and drink to be spoiled by stupidity and mismanagement?...Let us not, then, be too highbrow to learn something both theoretically and practically about food and cookery, or too lazy to take trouble anew every morning; neither let us be so timorous as to sit down under a rule of what a schoolboy friend in a recent examination paper alluded to as "that practice introduced by the Greeks of a man having only one wife which is called Monotony."

Published nearly 100 years ago, it's thrilling to read a series of essays so precise in their criticism, recipes, and self-satisfaction. As the very first food columnist for The Times of London, Dame Jekyll had what we now refer to indelicately as "a platform," and she used that vantage to comment on the social realities of her time: the duties of women single and married, the needs of children, the requirements of men back from war, the challenges of feeding people economically, motherhood, boring people, aspic, and offal. Whether you read this as an historical document or a recipe book or a mid-afternoon pick-me-up, the conviction of these essays will infect you, and maybe help you to be brave, in and outside of your home and your kitchen.

So say what's on your minds, ladies. Have many opinions. Stand with both feet on the ground and take a deep breath and say it loud, and with a bite.

$ 20.00