A favourite of our friends at Yellowhammer and Where The Light Gets In, Honey From A Weed is at the opposite end of everything to a glossy TV chef's recipe book. Like a prior-life companion to Rachel Roddy's A-Z of Pasta, this is a story of food, an accumulation of knowledge, history and pride in a locality.
"Patience Gray was first known for the 1950s classic, Plats du Jour, but her greatest work was this passionate autobiographical cookery book Honey from a Weed. It is Mediterranean through and through, and as compelling as a first-class novel. First published in 1986, the book is now published in the original format, but with soft covers. She shared the life of a sculptor, Norman Mommens, whose appetite for marble and sedimentary rocks took them to Tuscany, Catalonia, the Cyclades (Naxos) and Apulia. These are the places which in turn inspired this rhapsodic text. Everywhere, she learned from the country people whose way of life she shared, adopting their methods of growing, cooking and conserving the staple foods of the Mediterranean. She described the rustic foods and dishes with feeling and fidelity, writing from the inside and with a deep sense of the history and continuity of Mediterranean ways. Her life in the Salento contrasted with an earlier, and indeed glittering, career in Fleet Street, but she sacrificed the deadlines of the past to the rhythm of wine-making, seasonal sowing and gathering. Patience Gray’s first book was Plats du Jour (with Primrose Boyd, published in 1957); she then wrote a cookery book for a shipping line, The Centaur’s Kitchen with illustrations by her daughter Miranda Armour-Gray (available from Prospect Books). She described her life on Naxos in Ringdoves and Snakesand her life and work in general in Work Adventures Childhood Dreams. Patience Gray died in 2005. Corinna Sargood’s drawings, in another dimension, evoke the underlying spirit of the book, which has to do with the landscape, people, art, imagination, as much as with fasting and feasting."