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The Delights of Delicate Eating

The Delights of Delicate Eating 
by Elizabeth Robins Pennell  
University of Illinois Press, 2000 

First published in London in 1896, the lively culinary essays in this book reflect an era that has long since vanished, and yet the author's insights are suprisingly modern and her gustatorial adventures and recommendations are refreshingly original.  

Unlike most food writing of its day, The Delights of Delicate Eating is not a recipe formula cookbook. It offers no instructions on how to cook, but encourages creativity over regimine and intuition over planning. 

The author, Elizabeth Robins Pennell, was a popular food writer of the 1890s and a voracious cookbook collector who amassed over 1,000 volumes dating back as early as 1498. Originally published as "The Feasts of Autolycus"  and reissued in 1923 under its present title, The Delights of Delicate Eating would be all but forgotten were it not for this republication by the University of Illinois Press. 

Pennell's essays frequently mention expensive or difficult to find ingredients and she refers to restaurants and chefs whose menus are a distant memory, but her philosophy of "good eating as the basis for good living" survives those meals and gives them ample tribute. 

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The Delights of Delicate Eating elevates "our daily bread" to a feast for the senses. Pennel leads the reader through the culinary delights of the day, from the fresh rolls of a solitary petit déjeuner through elaborate dinners complete with spotless linen, flawless silver, and cut flowers in vases of Venetian glass. Pennell sets good eating as the basis for good living, a healthy imagination, a happy marriage, stimulating conversation, and satisfying social intercourse. For all who would embrace such benefits, The Delights of Delicate Eating offers a lovely diversion.  

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