Ross-on-Wye Civic Society

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Ross-on-Wye & District Civic Society newsletter Spring 2002 (number 77)

In February a national newspaper printed an article commemorating the 10th anniversary of the death of Elizabeth David, the doyenne of food writers. In it the story of one of Ross-on-Wye's less prestigious claims to fame was recounted.

Elizabeth David had spent the war working for the government in Egypt, but in the winter of 1946/7 she found herself in a hotel in Ross. The miseries of austerity and rationing were compounded by some of the harshest weather on record. She afterwards wrote of the food she was served, "It was produced with a kind of bleak truimph which amounted almost to a hatred of humanity and humanity's needs." She there and then decided to jot down her memories of the Mediterranean cuisine she had enjoyed in the war, and during the 1950s wrote a series of pioneering books celebrating continental cooking.

Her influence was at first limited but, as more exotic ingredients gradually became available, and people taking package holidays abroad discovered that olive oil was not just for putting in your ears, her work laid the foundation for the more exciting, wide-ranging cuisine we enjoy today - even in the hotels of Ross.

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