By Jans Ondaatje Rolls
Thames & Hudson, $39.95, 384 pages
The Bloomsbury Cookbook is a hefty volume that includes hundreds of recipes, yet it’s not a cookbook suitable for contemporary kitchens. This enormous compilation by Jans Ondaatje Rolls is a historic book focusing on the Bloomsbury Group, a collection of celebrated British folks formed in the early 1900s. They included artists, poets, writers, musicians, philosophers and intellectuals who shared their contempt for conventional morality. The six-plus-page introduction by the author is an essay by itself, and gives us an insight into this Group. It included names like Virginia Wolf, Vanessa Bell, Lytton Strachey, Roger Fry and so on.
“…this book is a happy demonstration of how a gifted writer with a genuine passion for her subject can surprise and inspire.”
The book is filled with quotations (the sources of which are in the back) and hundreds of historic recipes no longer suitable in today’s kitchen. Everything is very lightly spice (two basil leaves in a sauce-pan of spaghetti sauce) as to typical English fashion of the early 1900s. The recipes are simply brief instructions of a short paragraph, sometimes just a sentence. These are of historic importance. A large number of additional recipes are in the Appendix. Of equal significance is the huge number of beautiful paintings reproduced in the book. A detailed chronology from 1885 to 2012 concludes this volume.
Reviewed by George Erdosh