A food writer first and foremost, as well as a traveller with a keenly observant eye and one with the gift to write exquisitely and wittily; one who can evoke a memory for her readers of food and places long forgotten, Elisabeth Luard’s articles and books are an absolute joy.
And her latest book Squirrel Pie is no exception.
Bearing in mind the book’s title we were somewhat disconcerted at first. She wants us to cook squirrel?
But then we began to realise where she was coming from – using the Ingredients that are to hand in order to put food on the family table.
As children we regularly helped our mother skin and cook the rabbits delivered several times a year by the Rabbit Man, we never knew his name; it was the most natural thing to do, and her rabbit stews were delicious.
So why not squirrel? The reader follows Elizabeth to the forests of New England, to Maine to be precise in the footsteps of the early settlers, where she made that squirrel pie.
This delightful book is divided into four sections, forests, islands, deserts and rivers.
Along with exploring the forests of Maine we go truffling with her in Extremadura; gather snails on the island of Crete, abelones and fruit on Tasmania; and cruise along the river Rhône to the Camargue.
Then we set sail on the Danube taking in many of the wonderful foody experiences of both rivers, before, finally, she takes us to meet the desert-dwellers - salt and cumin from Gujarat, and finally to Ethiopia’s Amhara.
There are no photos to illustrate the book, they’re not needed. Elizabeth paints such wonderful word pictures, but to break up text there are some of the author’s own delightful sketches, and as added treats tucked onto the pages some 50 recipes.
The book quite simply is inspirational as a travel book and a joy to read for anybody interested in food.
Squirrel Pie (and other stories) – Adventures in Food Across the Globe. Elisabeth Luard.
ISBN: 978-1-4088-4610-0. £16.99, ebook £14.99.