An entertaining collection of Lesley Blanch’s articles previously published in magazines, her stories describe where she tasted certain dishes, or some associated anecdote. She considered that, “A wasted meal is a wasted moment in life.” From Wilder Shores, The Tables of my Travels is the perfect present for special occasions.
She writes, “This book is not a cookery book in the classical sense, and no more than glancingly autobiographical. Nor is it strictly a travel book, although it does tell something of far lands and the circumstances which have led me to eat local dishes in a variety of local settings, from Rothschild dinner tables to Turkoman tents. It could be best described as a sketchbook: sketches offering the dishes, places and people I have encountered while on the move through life.”
She describes her experiences of food through a life of travel, whether with bedouins in the desert or the President of the United States at the White House.
Her culinary adventures range across memorable breakfasts and French diplomatic dinners; sumptuous Turkish dishes and pushtu kebabs of lamb marinated in yoghurt and vinegar; and Nile-side meals or English puddings.
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”.
She imagines the only sort of Christmas dinner she would really enjoy, with twelve guests irrespective of centuries, language, or geography, including: Greta Garbo, Alexander Pushkin, Marie Duplessis, St Francis of Assissi, General de Gaulle, H. M. the Emperor Zahimuddin Muhammed Babur, the Sultan of Oman . . .
ELIZABETH DAVID: “This must be one of the nicest Christmas-present books published over the last year . . . The illustrations in this enchanting book are as unexpected and eccentrically chosen as one could hope for, I just wish there were more of them”
SUNDAY TIMES: “It is a high moment for the habitual reader of cookery books to find one that is really different. This is such a book”
JEREMY ROUND, INDEPENDENT: “From Wilder Shores: The Tables of My Travels is a collection of short feature articles on subjects such as breakfast, puddings, eating on trains and picnics, generously larded with her experiences in Russia, Mexico, Egypt, Persia, and all over the Arab countries. If, as Lesley Blanch says, The Wilder Shores of Love was written to ‘show women that there is more to life that the cold emancipation of office work,’ then perhaps the present title is to do a similar job against mass egalitarianism of McDonald’s . . . My favourite section is a fantasy Christmas banquet . . . Her writing offers unique insights into a vanished and vanishing world”
Cookery & Travel. John Murray, 1989 224pp HB
BookBlast ePublishing publication (ebook and PB): December, 2020