The Modern Peasant
It begins with an act of culinary pilgrimage. Having read and re-read the cult cookery book and memoir, Honey From a Weed, food writer Jojo Tulloh was compelled to visit the home of its author, Patience Gray, and so made the journey to Gray's remote farmhouse in Southern Italy. After spending the sixties wandering through Southern Europe, Gray and her lover, the sculptor Norman Mommens, settled down together on a hilltop in Apulia. Over the next three decades they cultivated their elevenacres of land, growing garlic, herbs, figs, quinces, tomatoes and black chickpeas, as well as making their own wine. They cleared the terraces and pruned the ancient olive trees, and the hilltop wilderness flourished. Though both Mommens and Gray are both dead, the force of that fiercely independent lifestyle still lingers in the home they made together. On her return to London, Jojo wondered what parts of this peasant-like self-sufficiency she could replicate away from the isolation and peace of the countryside; looking around her she found she was not alone. Beneath Victorian railway arches, on inner city roof tops and on land borrowed from parks and vicarages, a new breed of food producers were baking bread, making cheese, keeping bees and growing vegetables. Inspired by their success, Jojo watched them at work, gleaning what she could from their skilful labours. She found that producing more of our own ingredients from scratch is deceptively simple yet immensely rewarding. In this evocative and illuminating book, Jojo shares her knowledge of this fast-changing culinary scene. Alongside vivid stories from her visits to producers and step-by-step methods for baking and pickling, fermenting and foraging, she presents fresh tasting, achievable recipes for modern peasants - Indian bread stuffed with chillies, spices and winter greens, sour dough pizzas of nettles and sausage, celebratory paellas of squid and home-grown peppers, chutneys, jam and pickles - and in doing so shows how a food philosophy that takes the best from past traditions can put flavour and excitement back into everyday cooking - even amidst the roar of city life.