Who wrote ‘Some of the very first cooking utensils I ever owned were orange-red cast-iron casseroles lined with white enamel…. Everything I cooked seemed to turn out right. They never played me an unwelcome trick. They were cheerful and clean- looking. They saved me washing-up and storage space. They looked civilized on the table. My affection for them grew.’
Now, all of this may be true, but was there ever so finely turned endorsement of Le Creuset pans? Was there ever such an elegant piece of gushing advertising copy?
On the basis of the style, it may come as no surprise to discover that the author was Elizabeth David in a little booklet called Cooking with Le Creuset published in 1969. I quite forgot that I had it until I came across it while sorting out some books the other day, a reminder of my more adventurous book-buying days. She goes on to list the pans’ virtues under such headings as ‘Clean & Safe’, ‘Longer-Lasting Enamel’, ‘Choice of Eighty Pans’, and ‘Pans For All Fuels’. There isn’t an aspect of Le Creuset kitchenware that isn’t held up for admiration in that characteristic crisp and limpid prose. Of course I’d buy they full set on the strength of that alone.
Perhaps it isn’t surprising to find E.David extolling the virtues of her favorite pots and pans. After all, the blessed Delia has changed the fortunes of certain products. Nigella and Jamie have made financial capital out of their own lines of everything to do with the kitchen and the table. But somehow I’d always thought Ms David had stayed above the vulgar fray.
But then I remembered that she had opened a kitchenware shop in Bourne Street, just off Sloane Square, in 1964. This had always seemed a seemly diversion rather than a serious commercial venture. Obviously I was wrong. She stocked Le Creuset pans and needed to shift them. Hence the advertorial booklet. It shows that far from being simply the goddess cookery writer or the rather severe food historian she later became, at one time she was like so many of us, trying to chisel out a living in a difficult and ungrateful world. I feel more warmly about E.David as a result. And there’s a very fine recipe for Dry-Spiced Beef. Note that and other hyphens. She was as meticulous when writing advertising copy as she was in writing her articles and books.