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12 July 2009

West Cork Literary Festival 2009: Food Writing

I have just enjoyed the enormous pleasure of spending a week discussing food writing with a brilliant bunch of students for five mornings, as part of Bantry's annual West Cork Literary Festival.
My thanks to my students – Hedy, Susan, Mo, Damhnait, Leeanne, Aisling, Doreen, Michael and Brian – for their commitment and engagement, which was at times unbelieveably potent and intense.
We discussed many books and writers, and the following list is my attempt to draw them all together.
The class were particularly struck by this passage from Patience Gray's “Work –Adventures –Childhood Dreams”:

“I have the Sculptor to thank for ‘giving me the right’ to make things because, before I knew him, any creative thing I undertook seemed to be a kind of madness, something which is could ‘afford’ only to do in time that was ‘free’ or ‘stolen’, with its undertones of guilt. In fact in making things you make time your own, or vanish into into it. Suddenly you are Nowhere. Living in the Present”.

Richard Olney
Simple French Food (Grub Street)

Patience Gray
Honey From a Weed (Prospect Books)
Work, Adventures, Childhood Dreams (Edizioni Leucasia)

Michael Pollan
The Omnivore's Dilemma
In Defence of Food
The Botany of Desire

Joanna Blythman
The Food We Eat

Marcella Hazan
The Second Classic Italian Cookbook (usually found in a single volume with the first Classic Cookbook)

Wendell Berry
The Gift of Good Land (Ten Point Press)

Denis Cotter
The Café Paradiso Cookbook
Paradiso Seasons

M.F.K. Fisher
The Art of Eating (Vintage, a collection of 5 of MFK's books)

Diana Henry
Crazy Water Pickled Lemons (Mitchell Beazley)

Mary Sheehan
Coming Home To Cook (

Jane Grigson
Jane Grigson's Vegetable Book

Lori di Mori
Beaneaters and Breadsoup (Quadrille)

Leon Katz
The Hungry Soul (Chicago)

Robert Freson
The Taste of France
Savouring Italy

Bill Granger
Bill's Kitchen (Murdoch Books)
Feed Me Now! (Quadrille) – for the meatball recipe with the grated onions

Martin Shanahan & Sally McKenna
The Seafood Lovers' Cookbook (Estragon Press)

Elizabeth David
French Provincial Cooking