Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Fine Print

It’s always in the fine print.

The pile for the op-shop was getting suspiciously large.
Madam D has to be supervised in certain weather. She would say I need supervision regardless of the weather. On some days she can come back from op-shopping with 16 koala bears, 10 kg of knitting patterns and a dozen tea-towels. On other days your favourite Johnny O’Keefe album can end up on its way out the door.
Today it was an early Barry Humphries album and 2 Phantom comics amongst a lot of mutually agreed upon surplus stuff.
Just in the nick of time I noticed them. I had forgotten about the Phantom comics bought for the graphics, the old paper, and a lost childhood. Then I thought I had better check to see if it was worth anything, as the renos were starting to add up. That’s when it happened. Bingo! an article in the SMH confirms a very rare first edition worth a couple of weeks of builders’ work. See Link: Jackpot.
For about a half an hour I basked in my forgotten op-shop coup. Then I rang a Frew Publishing with my find and instead of a ticket to Sydney to offer the rarest of Phantom comics to the keenest of collectors his secretary asked an innocent question. Did it have a printers’ line under the second page? No I replied, then she told me of the 1991 facsimile reassuringly adding it was worth about an hours' worth of plumbing.
Always check the fine print.

De Croze returns

But the day ended well, very well. The copy of Austin de Croze’s What to Eat and Drink in France 1931 has returned from a short holiday in the lost books’ dimension.
What’s so special about this edition? It all started about 25 years ago with a casual peek into Elizabeth David’s book Mediterranean Food. A small aside, an unusual recipe sketch for an Anchoiade de Croze containing figs, almonds, fennel seed, very alluring. I started to make it and it became a regular in our recipe repertoire for over 20 years usually paired with a Cantal or Parmesan Cheese tart.

Much later I had the privilege of meeting Jill Norman, E.D’s good friend and original publisher. Jill started the Penguin Cooking List. She is an author of many fine books and a highly respected editor. A couple of years later we had the pleasure of presenting a lunch and dinner together honouring Elizabeth David. Jill Norman was the guest speaker at an event called ‘Is there an author in the house?’ where the said anchoiade was featured.
This image below is from the original Memorial Service for E.D. Jill had brought a copy for each person at the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival event.

She had recalled that I was intrigued by De Croze and that I did not know much about him. About 3 months after the event a package arrived in the mail. She had remembered and sent a copy, not just any copy but a first edition containing the recipe with a very special provenance. So you can see I’m glad he’s back.

Now you can follow the trail of de Croze who completed a similar journey as Elizabeth David in recording the traditional foods of France a generation earlier. He dedicates the book to his son Joel ‘a future gourmet who, through this book will learn the Geography, History, and Psychology of his native land in the language of a good friend country..

Lovingly A de C.

The trail if you follow it will take you to Curnonsky who invented Bibendum through all the various Provinces of a time gone by. I won’t spoil it for you.

1 comment:

Tim said...

delightful!....So glad you found it! Thanks for the memories of a wonderful weekend