Book Readings

"Scholarly, playful, idiosyncratic and witty, Aldo Buzzi's The Perfect Egg is an excursion into the food that has obsessed, provoked and intrigued the author through his life."  So says the blurb on the dust jacket of this wonderfully entertaining collection of food writings. Rupert Baker reads a piece entitled "Spaghetti Bolognese, Overcooked" which will ring a bell with anyone who has a secret love of tinned rice pudding or soggy Weetabix.

Table Talk: Sweet and Sour, Salt and Bitter brings together the best of AA Gill's columns on food. David Watson reads two chapters from the book: Pizza Express, and Elizabeth David.

Lord Tebbit isperhaps the only politician everto have written a cookbook, The Game Cook, thanks to a chance conversation in his favourite butcher's shop. Lord Tebbit recently agreed to record a conversation with Anne Dolamore on video for Talking of Food, on how he came to write it. Following their conversation, he recorded two extracts from the book.

Here are some wonderfully funny stories from behind the scenes of the catering world; among them the night Leith's nearly caught fire when a dumpy little woman (Princess Margaret, as it happened) ordered roast pheasant, and why Warren Beatty and Julie Christie really wanted to sit under the spotlight. For the very first time, Prue can be heard reading extracts from her autobiography.

At the age of seven, tired and bewildered after a long journey from England to Syria via Lebanon, Josceline Dimbleby caught her first sight of Damascus from the mountain road. In the extract she has chosen to read from her book of recipes, travels and memories, Orchards in the Oasis,  the magic of her first impressions of her new home are vividly recalled;  the deep red mulberry-stained water in the pool, the sun-warmed apricots, the scented pastries that awoke a lifelong passion for food and flavour.

Agnes Jekyll's gift for friendship and organisational skills made her an excellent hostess. Helen Garlick reads three more extracts from Kitchen Essays, published in The Times in 1922, in which Lady Jekyll passes on 'some of the wit and wisdom of her clever and imaginative housekeeping'.

Agnes Jekyll (1860-1937) was the supreme hostess: her house was described as "the apogee of opulent comfort and order without grandeur, smelling of pot-pouri, furniture polish and wood smoke". Lady Jekyll, as she became, first published Kitchen Essays in The Times, "in which she was persuaded to pass on some of the wit and wisdom of her rare gift for clever and imaginative housekeeping".  Helen Garlick reads a few of her favourite extracts...

Alexandre Dumas, best known for such classic novels as The Three Musketeers, The Count of Monte Cristo and Man in the Iron Mask, wanted to be remembered for a far more esoteric book.  Food was his real passion in life and his Grand Dictionnaire de Cuisine was the one book the great novelist cared about.  Mark Hilton reads extracts from Alan and Jane Davidson's translation,  Dumas On Food.