Patience Gray (1917-2005) was first known for the 1950s classic Plats du Jour, but her greatest work was Honey From A Weed, a passionate autobiographical cookery book first published in 1986.
Gray shared the life of a sculptor, Norman Mommens, whose appetite for marble and sedimentary rocks took them to Tuscany, Catalonia, the Cyclades (Naxos), and Apulia. These are the places which in turn inspired this rhapsodic text.
Everywhere she went, she learned from the country people whose way of life she shared, adopting their methods of growing, cooking, and conserving the staple foods of the Mediterranean. She described the rustic foods and dishes with feeling and fidelity, writing from the inside and with a deep sense of the history and continuity of Mediterranean ways.
Her life in the Salento contrasted with an earlier, and indeed glittering, career in Fleet Street, but she sacrificed the deadlines of the past to the rhythms of wine-making, seasonal sowing, and gathering.
Corinna Sargood’s drawings, in another dimension, evoke the underlying spirit of the book, which has to do with the landscape, people, art, imagination, as much as with fasting and feasting.
An American native
A father’s legacy
The vegetarian-cooking pioneer
Cracking a Filipino favorite