Yesterday in a used-book store, I found a tattered Penguin edition of "Plats du Jour, " the ground-breaking cookbook by Patience Gray, better known for her "Honey from a Weed." Written when Britain was just recovering from the war and food was still rationed, it was a break-through book, introducing readers to classic Continental foods, mostly of peasant origin, that were made from simple ingredients. Many of the recipes have since become mainstream cooking for English speaking people around the world. Yet the book remains an inspiration as much because of the way she writes about food as for the recipes themselves--much like the writing of Elizabeth David. Still, in some ways it is a curiosity. She describes cuts of meat using British terms unfamiliar to Americans. She gives British measures that not even the metricized British use today--like gills. It would be nice to have this book in an edition edited for Americans, much like Elizabeth David's great bread book. Another irony is that many of the cheap peasant cuts she writes about are available only to people with high-end butcher shops in their neighborhood. I mean, when is the last time you saw a calf's foot in your neighborhood chain food store? (Though we do have pig's feet at our local Safeway.)
Do any of you Chow Hounds know of other books that deserve new editions?