Seeking Feedback on Several English Cookbooks, please.
FWIW - so far I've found:
The Best of Elizabeth Acton
Good Things, Jane Grigson
The Art of Cheese Cookery, Nika Hazelton
Elinor Fettiplace's Receipt Book, Hilary Spurling
Fresh from the Garden, Henrietta Green
Mastering the Art of French Cooking, J. Child - but in paperback - and thus easy to travel with in the future.
The Centaur's Kitchen, Patience Gray
Pasta & Ravioli (River Cafe Pocket Books)
Lilla's Feast - biography of a woman who wrote a cookbook while in a Japanese prisoner of war camp in China during WWII. It is on display at the Imperial War Museum
Cornucopia: A Gastronomic Tour of Britain, Paul Richardson
The Oxford Companion to Italian Food, Gillian Riley
The Pedant in the Kitchen, Julian Barnes
Thank you for all of your suggestions/thoughts. I'm going to print out a list to take with me. I did buy Patience Gray's "The Centaur's Kitchen" yesterday, which I've wanted for a while, as well as a somewhat quirky book called "The Food Lovers' Christmas" by Henrietta Green.
I have Grigson's English book, as well as a number of others of hers, and I may pick up her Vegetable book on this trip.
One thing that has been driving me crazy since last night - I cannot remember the name or author of a cookbook written in the first part (pre-WWII) of the 20th century, referred to by Elizabeth David as one of the books from which she taught herself to cook. Not Countess Morphy's, which I have, and not Florence White's, which I also have. I know I'm providing next to no information, but I think it's a classic from that time and, while re-printed as late as the 70s, it's now out of print. I had found it online a while back. So, if this rings any bells ....
Henrietta Green is inherently quirky.
Some years back (pre-internet, or at least very early days), she published a "Food Lovers Guide" to Britain. It was a "must have" for those of us who travel round the country. Since then, she's organised "food lovers fairs" and generally tried to operate as a "commercial niche market" for good food. The internet, particularly sites such as BigBarn, has now effectively sidelined her.
Couple more thoughts for your searching round the second hand bookshops. Maybe early Rick Stein - when he was still concentrating on seafood (I'm not normally a great fan of chef's books but I make an exception cos he just seems like a nice bloke). And have a nosey at anything earlyish by Sophie Grigson (daughter of Jane)
Just to clarify - I agree that River Cottage recipes aren't necessarily the best out there. My enjoyment of the books come from all the information rather than recipes.
The "Complete Traditional Recipe Book" by Sarah Edington has lots of very good recipes.
Have you tried the "National Trust Farmhouse" book? It contains all the British classics - the recipes themselves are better than the River Cottage books, except Everyday. It is the most recent I have as it was published in December. I also have the Trust's "English Traditional Recipes: A Heritage of Food and Cooking".
Darina Allen has some excellent books as well (but are more traditional Irish). I cannot wait to get her, "Forgotten Skills of Cooking".
My favourite of all time would have to be Heston Blumenthal's "Fat Duck" but definitely NOT traditional British! And it would really weigh down your suitcase as well...
Quintessential British would be the "National Trust Farmhouse" one or others by the Trust. That would be my first pick. All the other books I have are regional books from Scotland and England unavailable in North America.
Have fun in London! I'm sooooo jealous...
Some more to consider, MMR:
Margaret Costas' "Four Seasons Cookery Book" -- a classic
Jane Grigson's "English Food" -- ANOTHER classic
And in a more contemporary, everyday vein:
"It's Raining Plums" by Xanthe Clay
"Where's My Dinner?: Real Recipes for Busy People from the Daily Telegraph" by Moyra Fraser
Delia's "Winter" is good and we cook from it regularly - she also did "Summer" and "Christmas". I've already suggested you get her "Complete Cookery Course" as the iconic book of British home cooking over the last 30+ years.
The River Cottage one is OK, but perhaps gets into his smallholding lifestyle a bit much for some folk. His Meat one is even better.
Rhodes was mega a few years back. Very much in the forefront of the new wave of "modern Brit" chefs. Open Rhodes is one of his early books (second or third?). It sits on the shelf but it's ages since we've cooked from it.
If you're also looking at new books, you might want to check out River Cottage Everyday - which I've just got. And the two "What to eat now" books by Valentine Warner, which are very seasonal. So much in all three that I want to eat.
Although I have thumbed through River Cottage, I didn't see anything that called to me. He's pretty amazing and I've seen his TV programs and was impressed. As a Californian, I cannot comment on most English cookbooks (except for my obsession with nattering on about Jamie Oliver), but Rose Prince caught my eye when I was surfing the net one day. She, and her latest book, appealed to me. Check her out.
Out of the three you mention I only own The River Cottage Cookbook. I have all Hugh's books and LOVE them. The Meat book in particular is life changing. I highly recommend them. I have several British cookbooks as I bring one back with me each time I go there as per my usual drill. If you are interested I could post a list.