This engaging book of essays is one of the more durable works in food literature. It has been through innumerable printings since its publication in 1927 by the distinguished house of Jonathan Cape in Britain and in 1928 by A.A. Knopf in the United States.
Shand (1888-1960), a journalist and respected architecture critic, was also a devotee of good food and fine wine. Of his four books on those subjects, published between 1925 and 1929, this was the most popular by far. He shows himself to be exhilaratingly opinionated on almost any item of food or drink that he encountered, and his book is a springboard for outrageous observations on all food subjects from hors d’oeuvre and charcuterie to soup, fish, vegetables, cheeses, and sweets.
“Pickles,” Shand writes, “can be regarded as a delicacy exclusive to the servants’ hall, and as such need not detain our attention.” “Cauliflowers and brussels sprouts,” he notes, “are fellow-sufferers from the Turkish bath method of English vegetable cookery.” As for omelettes, they “can be made in France, Belgium, and French-speaking Switzerland. In all other countries the name is either the courtesy title for a heavy-handed imitation, or else it denotes a peculiarly different concept of the culinary art in its application to beaten eggs.”
Yes, Shand does also approve of many foods, but the thorns are more immediately noticeable than the roses. This venerable book always was, always will be, delightful reading.
The copy on offer is a Very Good UK first edition printing issued by Cape in 1927. The interior is in superb condition, clean throughout (except for three tiny reddish spots on page 110, which we do so hope are claret); the binding is in blue, with gold stamping on the slightly darkened spine. Also present, the rarely seen dust jacket, which, while missing about one third of its back and a substantial portion of its spine (not, happily, including the book title), does have the very striking front panel intact, as well as the clipped front flap. Now protected in a mylar sleeve, it is a good a jacket as we’ve seen —and the only one on a UK first. Very desirable.