The subtitle to Summer Food is "A unique collection of recipes for warm summer days and nights." And this book is just that. Originally published in 1978, it's almost shocking how contemporary these recipes feel. And that's because Judith Olney knew what was up, and dutifully reported the food of southern France, which is still so much what we all want to eat today.
The best way to describe the recipes in this book is to imagine an ideal picnic, like the kind you'd see in a lifestyle magazine and roll your eyes at because no one really picnics like that. So imagine that picnic. There is green olive tapenade and thin toast. There is asparagus quiche. There is caramelized onion tart. There's grilled zucchini salad with thyme and oregano flowers, and tomatoes with pesto, and cold chicken legs with aïoli, and peach pudding for dessert. And someone's brought a cooler full of white wine and "Balm in Gilead" by Nina Simone is playing and suddenly you're living in a lifestyle magazine. It's that simple.
I'm not joking: it is that simple, because Judith Olney makes it so. There are more involved recipes in this book, but for the most part the dishes she puts forward are not complicated and don't take all day to make because that's not what summer eating is about. Summer food (and Summer Food) is about the simplicity of fresh produce, ripe fruit, and good fish and meat; spending time outside; being with your friends: the real feelings and vibe that led to the lifestyle magazine version.
Throw away the glossy mag, get this book instead. Reject the lifestyle industry's whitewashed images of pleasure and luxury. Make your fantasies a reality with your own two hands and an assertive, trustworthy voice from the past.