An Edible Athenaeum: Mark Hix's Library
In a semi-hidden loft room above Mark Hix’s East London steak and chicken restaurant – Tramshed – sits a small test kitchen and personal library. The Gourmand met Mark in this gastronomic hideaway to discuss and explore the thousands of culinary titles on his bookshelves, among them first editions of some of the rarest and most precious food tomes ever written. The shelves are home to some new publications but mainly house older volumes, a rare recipe book by Andy Warhol featuring his mother’s recipes and his distinctive early illustration style sits on display, housed in a protective glass box. Directed by Mark we borrowed a selection of books from the loft library to read, enjoy, and share.
Written by Arabella Boxer, one of the first female food authors, and designed by her then husband, Mark Boxer, this stunning book features a practical ring bound mechanism with pages sliced horizontally into three courses allowing you to plan and consider meals in relation to one another. The design’s beautiful typography, bold colours and exquisite illustrations sit perfectly with the traditional yet timeless recipes. It would have revolutionised most 1960s kitchens and still holds up as not only a beautiful piece of design but as a practical cookbook.
Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin
The London publishers claim this to be the first accurate translation of the French lawyer and politician Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin’s Physiologie du Gout. Brillat-Savarin’s culinary wisdom is spread over 30 meditations, transcribed in a beautifully bound book and embellished with 52 original and individually mounted intricate etchings by A. Laulouze. Originally published in French in 1825 just two months before Brillat-Savarin’s death this particular edition hails from 1884. A nourishing book rich with character and humour that any true gourmand would enjoy.
The Savoy Cocktail Book was first published in 1930 by the Savoy Hotel. Written by Harry Craddock, London’s most prestigious barman of the era, the book features 750 respectable cocktail recipes from the Alaska through to the Zanzibar with alluring Art Deco illustrations supplied by Gilbert Rumbold. Due to its monumental reverence a further five editions have been printed since the 1930s featuring the same classic cocktails with some new additions. An educational and faithful book for anyone who enjoys a fine cocktail.
J. M. Erich Webber
This 1929 collection of fine confectionery schooling holds nearly 1000 recipes (printed in English, French and Spanish) and over 300 illustrations. Its clothbound cover and leather spine help to distinguish the value of its contents. The interior pages are scribed in a heavy, blackletter script and letter pressed onto its delicate pages. This book would have been in advance of its time, with coloured illustrations, plastic stencils and a series of appropriate typefaces for use in pastry art. Described as a 'professional manual to practical confectionery' art J. M. Erich Weber published this book alongside a number of other educational books for the confectionery trade.
This well thumbed second edition of photographer David Thorpe’s Rude Food features food photographed as never before. Walking the confusing line either side of irony, the 1970s collection of classic dinner party dishes act as a narrative to facilitate semi-pornographic photography, sexualising the ingredients and dishes it features. It describes pasta as the perfect texture for a classic Rude Food dish; ‘firm, plump and slippery between the lips’. Exploring the shape and texture of food in comedic style, it is an essential read for anyone with a big appetite and a dirty mind.
First published in 1956 by Faber & Faber, this book is a post-war celebration of all things cheese after years of rationing. This book offers a delightful history and geography of cheeses from around the globe. André Simon, an established gourmand, dedicated wine enthusiast and writer, educates his readers on our favourite cheeses including some less likely candidates from Iraq, Egypt and India. A beautiful example of classic Faber & Faber design, the cover art is by Berthold Wolpe who created some 1,500 iconic book covers and dust jackets throughout his career.