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Elizabeth David: a Life in Recipes

Elizabeth David is the most important cookery writer of the 20th century. Cited as a major inspiration by chefs as diverse as Nigella Lawson, Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, she was the original domestic goddess. We eat what we eat today thanks to her.

When David published her first book of Mediterranean food in 1950, post-war rationing was still in place and olive oil was something one bought from a chemist in a bottle marked 'for external use only'. British housewives were making do with Spam, dried egg and over-boiled cabbage.

David changed all that. Her books, with their beautiful descriptions of mouth-watering Mediterranean cuisine, introduced the country to the previously unheard of delights of olives, apricots, avocados and basil. She revolutionised the way the British think about food. David went on to write eight more books that have sold more than two million copies worldwide.

David's public image was of an elegant, respectable and somewhat austere figure. In reality she was a deeply unconventional person with a profound passion for food, life and men.

This drama tells the compelling story of the woman behind the persona, the tale of a life-long infatuation with food and a turbulent love life which she kept very private.

At the heart of the drama is the one true love affair of David's life - the affair which she claimed drove her to success as a food writer - and the moment where it all came crashing down. Her misery at losing this great love was so extreme that she suffered a devastating brain haemorrhage. Tragically, one of the legacies of this illness was that David lost the ability to taste salt, making it impossible for her to cook even the simplest recipe.

1 hour, 30 minutes

Last on

Mon 22 Mar 2010 22:00


Role Contributor
Elizabeth DavidCatherine McCormack
Peter HigginsGreg Wise
Norman DouglasKarl Johnson
Charles Gibson CowanKieran O'Brien
Tony DavidAndrew Havill
WriterAmanda Coe
DirectorJames Kent
ProducerLeanne Klein