Module 5

Eating: Recipes and Reviews


Bee Wilson, 2013, “The Pleasures of Reading Recipes”, The New Yorker, July 26,

Here are two linked articles about Elizabeth David, published to celebrate the centenary of her birth:

Elizabeth David: Rachel Cooke, 2013, “The Enduring Legacy of Elizabeth David, Britain’s First Lady of Food”, The Observer, December 8,

Interviews by Caroline Boucher, 2013, “Classic Elizabeth David Recipes: Chefs and Food Writers Choose Their Favourite Recipes by Elizabeth David and Explain why They Work”, The Observer, December 8,

Module 5 talks about the cookbook from the very elegant Sydney restaurant Sepia. You can gain some idea of its style from this gallery of images:

Brigid Delaney’s review in The Guardian analyses whether Sepia is worthy of its accolades and awards:

Very different in goals, cuisine, style and atmosphere—but also highly awarded—is Efendy, the restaurant run by the author of cookbook Anatolia. Check it out here:

This is a totally different approach to recipes. Matt and Julie Walker make beautiful, almost wordless films that show how to make, say, a Beet Cake or a Raspberry Tart. Their images are seductive, and certainly make me want to rush to the kitchen. So … how many words are necessary for a recipe, after all? 



Oh, this is a fun article. Peter Preston writes in The Guardian (the British version) about the contradictory reviews of the same restaurants from two different prominent British reviewers. AA Gill and Jay Rayner, in different newspapers, critiqued new restaurant Duck and Rice. Rayner praised it lavishly; Gill calls one of the dishes “a kitchen accident” and another one “a diabetic’s nappy”. What is the reader going to do when he/she is looking for advice? Read the whole article.

Meanwhile, Dani Valent, in GoodFood (August 11 2015), interviews LA food critic Jonathon Gold about his craft:



Menus have definite styles in the ways they present items to the diners. Some describe the items (“succulent”, “garden-fresh”) and the cooking style (“seared”, “gently braised”). Terry Durack even critiques the menu language in his November 24 2015 review of Sydney’s Gantry Restaurant and Bar, calling it a “cryptic haiku” and “a mystery wrapped in a conundrum”. The waitstaff explain: “the chef doesn’t want to spoil the surprises to come”.–bar-20151124-46qhy.html

Leah Binkovitz writes about vintage menus and their visual style in “Ten Vintage Menus That Are a Feast for the Eyes, If Not the Stomach” (, February 26 2013).

Dan Jurafsky is a linguist whose book, The Language of Food, explores how language is used in menus. This is a link to his blog (which hasn’t been updated since 2014; I guess he’s been busy since his book was published).

 The New York Public Library has an amazing collection of 17, 545 digitized menus online:

Check out a menu used in 1966 at the Von Trapp Family’s restaurant in Stowe, Vermont:

—a very early example, from the New York Hotel in 1859

—and one from 1985, for New York’s glamorous Russian Tea Room, which I could never afford to visit when I lived in the US: