A plaque for food writer Elizabeth David is unveiled in Chelsea's Halsey Street today — the first plaque commemorating a cookery writer since the scheme’s inception in 1866.
David, credited with introducing Mediterranean food to post-war England, is honoured at the home she lived in for 45 years. She is considered by many to be one of the most important cookery writers, credited with transforming the image of cooking from a necessary chore to a pastime that could be enjoyed and even relished.
Her books, such as, A Book of Mediterranean Food (1950), French Country Cooking (1951), French Provincial Cooking (1960) and An Omelette and a Glass of Wine (her collected journalism) are considered classics, packed with evocative anecdotes and recipes which made garlic and herbs staples of English kitchens.
When the Davids, (she was then married to Lieutenant-Colonel Ivor Anthony David, an officer in the Indian Army) bought the house in Chelsea, rationing was still in full force and olive oil was generally only available in pharmacies. Having travelled extensively, she longed for the flavours she had discovered and wrote evocative food and travel pieces, along with recipes, which shook up English palates, then jaded by austerity cooking.
No. 24 Halsey Street was David's home from 1947 until her death in 1992, and it was there, in her kitchen with a large pine table, chaise longue, butler's sink and gas stove, that she entertained her guests.
This year marks the 150th anniversary of the English Heritage London Blue Plaques scheme.