Squirrel Pie (and other stories)
'Elisabeth Luard proves that no matter where you are, there is food to be gathered, or hunted, or found. Squirrel Pie is a beautifully written tribute to food that has all but vanished from our everyday lives' Alice Waters
Elisabeth Luard, one of the food world's most entertaining and evocative writers, has travelled extensively throughout her life, meeting fascinating people, observing different cultures and uncovering extraordinary ingredients in unusual places. In this enchanting food memoir, she shares tales and dishes gathered from her global ramblings.
With refreshing honesty and warmth, she recounts anecdotes of the many places she has visited: scouring for snails in Crete, sampling exotic spices in Ethiopia and tasting pampered oysters in Tasmania. She describes encounters with a cellarer-in-chief and a mushroom-king, and explains why stress is good news for fruit and vegetables, and how to spot a truffle lurking under an oak tree.
Divided into four landscapes – rivers, islands, deserts and forests – Elisabeth's stories are coupled with more than fifty authentic recipes, each one a reflection of its unique place of origin, including Boston bean-pot, Hawaiian poke, Cretan bouboutie, mung-bean roti, roasted buttered coffee beans, Anzac biscuits and Sardinian lemon macaroons.
Illustrated with Elisabeth's own sketches, Squirrel Pie will appeal to anyone with a taste for travel, and an affinity for that most universal of languages, food.
Also available as an audiobook.
My Life as a Wife
They met in the back offices of Private Eye. He was the proprietor, the man the press called the Emperor of Satire, who every girl in London wanted to date. She was the reluctant debutante, an art student, and the office typist. Their affair was secret, and passionate, and days at the office were followed by nights in her Pimlico flat. When things got tricky, she swapped London for Mexico. He followed and proposed. She was just twenty-one when they married.
Luard's fascinating, witty and often brave memoir charts forty years of marriage to a man who was as cavalier and unreliable as he was charismatic and charming. Good-looking and athletic, with a keen intelligence and a deep understanding of and love for women, Nicholas Luard was also an absentee father, a philanderer, a wheeler-dealer whose numerous harebrained business schemes usually lost rather than made money, and ultimately a man whose love of the bottle was all-consuming. But while life with Nicholas was never going to be easy, it was also never going to be dull.
In My Life as a Wife, award-winning writer Elisabeth Luard tells the story of her life with this hugely glamorous and extraordinary maverick of a man. She traces their years spent together in London, Spain, France, the Hebrides and Wales, with four children, one of whom died tragically from AIDS. It is a journey littered with numerous eccentric friends and innumerable escapades, often staying just ahead of the bank, through to the grim days of her husband's terrifying descent into alcoholism and insanity, his liver transplant and ultimately his death.
Yet this is a story of laughter and hope as well as sadness - the healing power of children, the comfort of the kitchen table, the delight of good food and the simple joy of making life work - written by a woman of spirit.
Family life is never easy - there's the best of it and the worst, and sometimes it's hard to tell the difference. And then the children grow up and you're on your own, just the two of you, if your marriage has managed to survive fortune's slings and arrows. These are the middle years, the time of exploring new worlds, a world beyond the family.
Prize-winning food writer Elisabeth Luard chose to explore this through her cookery. Using material drawn from diaries and sketchbooks, she takes us into the kitchens of the peasant housewives of Eastern Europe, gives us a flavour of life above the Arctic circle, and explores the wild with the inhabitants of the High Tatras. Along the way, she asks some universal questions: what exactly is it that makes us know who we are? Why do we refer to our neighbours by the foods they eat? And she points out that it's easy to underestimate the power of the cooking pot, but the kitchen never lies. The true history of a nation is read not in libraries, but in domestic habit.
Illustrated with Elisabeth's own line drawings and interspersed with recipes, Still Life offers an exotic and highly individual look at the world beyond the family. Written with passionate enthusiasm and joie de vivre, it is a book packed full of magical anecdote and liberal helpings of sound common sense.
Not everyone goes to school on a donkey, keeps an eagle owl in the spare bedroom cupboard, or plays chess for the French Foreign Legion. But for the four Luard children, all this was perfectly normal. As normal as taking the scrap bucket across the stream to feed the household pig, or knowing how to hitch up a mulecart for the Whitsun pilgrimage to Our Lady of the Dew. Sunshine, life in a cork-oak forest and going to school on a donkey gave way to a year of schooling in the Languedoc for the children and a first exhibition as a bird-painter in a London gallery for the author.
Elisabeth Luard's not-so-simple tale captures the spirit of bringing up four children as they travel across Europe, their lives a series of old-fashioned adventures. Littered with anecdotes and a scattering of their favourite recipes, this book is a celebration of family life. But no family is immune from tragedy - still less one which lives life to the full. In Francesca, the eldest of the three daughters diagnosed HIV positive in 1991, a time when no cure was possible, we find a true heroine. Passionate, honest, perceptive, she tells her own story - until that moment when she can tell it no more.