At Elizabeth David’s Table

There’s a new book out: At Elizabeth David’s Table published by Michael Joseph. When I say new, that’s not strictly the case as it’s a compilation of David’s recipes and writing, with the addition of some fabulous photography by David Loftus. Even if you have some of Elizabeth David’s books already, go buy this one – it’s remarkable what font and photos can do for text, a bit like giving a room a fresh lick of paint.

The book is beside me and I have just opened it randomly to read the first sentence of an essay called Para Navidad: ‘It is the last day of October. Here in the south-eastern corner of Spain the afternoon is hazy and the sun is warm. The colours of the land are still those of late summer – roan, silver, lilac and ochre’.

How gorgeous is that? It’s exactly the same kind of day here in central Italy. And spookily enough I met a couple last week, Jeanne and Sam Chesterton, who have a finca in the same neck of the woods as where David was writing about. They run a B&B Finca Buenvino near Aracena, rear their own pigs, chickens, grow chestnuts and cork, and run the occasional cookery course.

And this is my second recommendation for this post – go and stay there or go on one of their courses. They have no idea I blog or write or anything like that, so this isn’t a bit of PR (well it is, but they didn’t ask me to do it). I want to visit, as the couple came across as warm and lovely – and very knowledgeable about food. Sam was talking about the local speciality, which is pork liver. It makes sense – what do you do with the rest of the pig once the shoulder and leg have been sent off to become Iberico ham? Eat it of course.

Now I’m not keen on pork liver, it’s too coarse and strong a flavour, and I’ve never recovered from Nyeri Primary School in Kenya, where the cooks produced liver with a green furry outside, tubular bits in the middle and it’d bounce if you threw it on the floor. But I’d be prepared to try it if the pig spent its life eating acorns, and if the liver had been prepared in the Jabugo manner. This is what I remember of Sam’s instructions:

Fry the liver so it’s still pink in the middle. Slice it. Sauté some garlic and scatter it over the liver along with lots of chopped fresh coriander. Dress with some sherry vinegar and olive oil and serve at room temperature. As a reward, I’d need some dry oloroso sherry to drink with it.

The coriander is the Portuguese influence in that part of Andalucia.