Cookery & Travel

ROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DISHES, The World Through The Kitchen Window

Seductive and piquant like its author, this guide to good food is “an appetizer for enthusiastic beginners” rather than a basic cookbook. When it was written, people in Britain still lived on rations and couldn’t travel to taste exotic cooking. Blanch’s gastronomic world tour starts with the words, “It is said that a nation is made by what it eats: undoubtedly diet affects character.”

ELIZABETH DAVID: “Russia, Afghanistan, Turkey, America, Egypt, Romania and Bulgaria are just some of the countries where this adventurous and inquisitive traveller has investigated the cooking pots and enjoyed – or otherwise – the hospitality of the locals. An incurable romantic, Miss Blanch invests the food she describes with the aura of exoticism”

FROM WILDER SHORES, The Tables of my Travels

Lesley Blanch’s stories of where she tasted certain dishes or of some associated episode all form part of her travels. She considers that, “A wasted meal is a wasted moment in life.” The title of her first, bestselling book, The Wilder Shores of Love, has led to her friends using her phrase to describe her cooking, or menus, as being “very wilder shores”.

SHIRLEY CONRAN: “An invitation from Lesley Blanch is one of the most sought after on the Riviera because she resolutely seals herself away from social life . . . She moves in a cloud of jasmine perfume and lives behind a glistening green tropical tangle very near the Italian border . . . Her food is always delicious”

UNDER A LILAC-BLEEDING STAR, Travels and Travellers

Under this unusual title, Lesley Blanch, a compulsive traveller and therefore, according to the Balkan saying, “born under a lilac-bleeding star,” writes of life in Bulgaria with her diplomat-husband at the end of the 1940s, and of her travels from Uzbekistan to Guatemala by way of North Africa and Siberia.

Alongside her own vivid recollections of life on the move, she weaves in the journeys of some of her predecessors, compulsive romantic travellers whose ground she too had sometimes covered: Pierre Loti; the last Ruritanian Queen, Marie of Roumania, in her Balkan setting; Vernon Lee, and Laurence Hope among them.

Her artist’s eye for detail and her vitality bring to life people and places. She is there and takes the reader with her.

Biography & Travel. John Murray, London (1963) and Atheneum, New York (1964)