Which side [of the plate] are you on?

One of my heroines is Marguerite Patten, whose work in the second world war for the Ministry of Food helped the nation struggle through rationing. I’d rate her common touch above Elizabeth David (far right), who is credited with introducing rustic Mediterranean cooking to Britain (‘dishes which are particularly suitable to our servantless lives’).

David’s A book of mediterranean food (1950) was illustrated by John Minton (‘exquisitely pretty’ was publisher John Lehmann’s description). In Modern typography in Britain, Paul Stiff discusses the graphic impact of the book, and quotes Elizabeth David on Minton’s jacket illustration: ‘In the shop windows his brilliant blue Mediterranean bay, his tables spread with white cloths and bright fruit, bowls of pasta and rice, a lobster, pitchers and jug and bottles of wine, could be seen far down the street.’

The jacket and title-page are reproduced from the 1980 Jill Norman/Book Club Associates reprint.