The opening sentences of Federman’s introduction to this lively, overdue book make a compelling argument for its existence: “Patience Gray’s Honey from a Weed is one of the most important and best-loved cookbooks of the twentieth century, yet its author remains little known beyond a small circle of food writers and critics. Such is the fate, perhaps, of a woman who lived for more than thirty years in a remote corner of southern Italy—without electricity, modern plumbing, or telephone—and liked to say, deliberately misquoting Gertrude Stein, that she wrote only for herself and friends.”
Adam Federman’s thorough and finely-crafted biography—written with the cooperation of Gray’s family and access to her papers—reveals that there was much more to Gray than the mystique of her near-isolation. A former textile designer, the author of a popular 1950s cookbook for harried home cooks, a translator of the first English-language edition of Larousse Gastronomique, a passionate amateur botanist, Gray was widely and deeply talented and more than willing to defy conventions. Fasting and Feasting brings her to life with insight and affection.
Color inserts; b-&-w photos.