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Cookery: The Savoury Course

Pursuits | By Elisabeth Luard

Are our taste buds as a country maturing?

If food fashions are as much a barometer of the national mood as Question Time is of our political preoccupations, then the appearance on high-end restaurant menus of salted, potted, fermented and pickled ingredients is an indication we’re heading back to Mrs Beeton’s basics. The national mood was reflected in much the same way in the aftermath of the Great War by Agnes Jekyll (sister-in- law of gardening Getrude), who provided readers of the Times with practical advice on how to entertain, post-war, on a limited budget and without an army of well-trained servants. Collected in 1922 as Kitchen Essays with their Recipes and Occasions (Persephone reprint, extracts on TalkingofFood.com), the underlying purpose was the restoration of the nation’s faith in a well-ordered world. Among the gastronomic traditions she championed was the British habit of serving a savoury: something small and delicious on toast to accompany the port, instead of...

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