Laurie Colwin’s Home Cooking

Home Cooking

I have a special bookshelf where I keep the books I plan to read. Some of them I’ve bought myself, and some of them I’ve borrowed, mostly from my mother or from my neighbor Patricia. At latest count — let me get up from the couch and count them for you — there are thirty-two books there. As you will infer, I am a bit of an unread-book hoarder, and I don’t feel quite serene unless this stash is well fed.

Perhaps my most cherished moment in the whole reading experience is when I kneel in front of the shelf (it is a low shelf), twist my neck this way and that to read the titles (English books have you bend your head to the right, French books have you bend it to the left, and my shelf is not very well organized), check my reader’s pulse to know what I feel like reading now, pull the chosen book by the spine (the others, while disappointed, let out a little sigh of relief — they have a bit more room to breathe now), and relocate my bookmark (a very old tattered thing) from the previous book to the promising new one.

Some of the books on my shelf have nothing to do with food — a couple of Simenon novels, Zadie Smith’s latest, a biography written by Jonathan Coe, a series of short novels about the Inuit people, an essay about Paris’ street life in the 18th century, my father’s two latest Le Guin translations — and some do — Hemingway’s Moveable Feast, a book on chocolate, Jeffrey Steingarten’s second collection of essays, and a history of French cakes and pastries, a fascinating thing into which I’ve peeked already, in a patent breach of my official rule.

Some books find themselves waiting for months in this temporary settlement — fortunately, my two favorite book lenders don’t seem to mind — but some barely have time to unpack their stuff. The most recent example was Laurie Colwin’s first collection of essays on food, called Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen.

Laurie Colwin was an American novelist who cooked, and who wrote a column in Gourmet magazine for a few years. She died very suddenly in 1992, when she was just 48 years old. This book is a collection of her Gourmet stories, and was followed by a second volume, called More Home Cooking: A Writer Returns to the Kitchen — interestingly enough, both books have now far outsold her novels.

Laurie Colwin’s writing was recommended to me a long time ago by a reader named Luisa, who said I was bound to enjoy her. But since I am sometimes a little slow at heeding advice, it took two years and a few more hints from other people for me to finally order her first book.

I devoured it in a couple of days — although I seem to have less time to read now that I don’t ride the metro to work anymore — and loved it to pieces. Her voice is warm and generous, her writing style simple and elegant, and she has such an intimate way of telling tales that she makes you feel she wrote the book just for you. And more importantly, she is funny. Whether she’s laughing at herself or pointing out entertaining traits in others, it is always clever and affectionate, never cynical nor cruel.

As I was nearing the end of the book and giggling uncontrollably — what we call un fou rire in French — through two whole chapters (namely “Kitchen Horrors”, and “Repulsive Dinners: A Memoir”), I felt so full of fondness for the author that I suddenly had tears well up in my eyes, thinking that she was no longer alive, nor cooking, nor writing, and that I would never ever get to meet her. Whether that’s a testament to her writing skills, or just proof that I am extremely emotional these days (book deadline fast approaching and all), I’ll let you decide.

In the meantime, if you haven’t yet read this book, I envy you (much like I envy whoever hasn’t yet seen the Twin Peaks TV series), and urge you to go out and buy a copy: you’re in for a real treat. I myself have ordered her second collection, and one of her novels. I have an inkling they won’t stay on the Shelf for very long.

[Looking for things to read? Check out the following topics on the C&Z forums: cookbook recommendations, food-related book recommendations, and a budding thread with general reading recommendations.]


As an unrelated side note, I wrote a tiny piece in yesterday’s New York Times Style Magazine about resto-épiceries in Paris. It is available online here (scroll down to the middle of the page — free registration required).

  • Laurie Colwin is the best, ever. I , too, really miss her , every time I open one of her two books, and can´t beleive she´s gone. her prose is so full of life.
    and now I envy you, clotilde, because the second is far better than the first. you´ll love it.

  • lee

    My best friend and I discovered Home Cooking together. We were roommates at the time so we often referred to Laurie as if she were a friend too, “Laurie says…” I know that sad feeling that she is no longer with us but I especially feel bad for her daughter. I’m glad you finally found her and I have to say that you remind me a bit of her…

  • It was so poignant, after she died, that the stories in Gourmet continued because she’d written so far in advance. It might be for copyright reasons but I always wish that Gourmet/Epicurious would collect the Laurie Colwin recipes, writing in one accessible place. This book’s on my (also heavy-laden) designated shelf to “read soon” … thanks for the reminder!

  • melinda

    I really love the way she wrote….and I was always sorry to have come to the end…she had an unassuming universal quality about her

  • Her novels and short stories are also wonderful. She is a presiding spirit in my kitchen.

  • Adele

    Reading Laurie Colwin was an “Aha!” moment for me. I have both Home Cooking volumes on my shelf and re-read them often.

  • Christine

    Laurie Colwin’s column was always the first thing I turned to in every new issue of Gourmet, and when she died so unexpectedly, like all her fans I grieved as for a friend. She remains my favorite food writer and a frequent inspiration. I do some food writing myself, though not of Colwin”s caliber, and a couple of years ago I took off from her piece about finding an appropriate gelatin dessert for her daughter for a column of mine (see link below.) What a hoot. Thanks Laurie, always. And thanks, Clothilde, for such a nice start to my day.

  • Alisa

    I was just thinking of asking you again for the name of the writer you recently mentioned, et voilà!

    I have some books on my need to read shelf, that have been there for years. What does *that* say about them/me? :)

  • Should you find the time, another very good book by a food critic in NY and editor of Bon Appetit is Tender At The Bone by Ruth Reichl(I believe two more follow this). It is another one that will have you laughing, especially descriptions of meals by her mother known as the Queen of Mold. Ruth had a very interesting life and her book is truly “delicious”.

  • Kelley Shimmin

    It might not be feasible for some reason I’m missing, but if I were you, I’d just store my English books upside down so then everything was easily identifiable from just one angle.

  • Yet, another book I must add to my summer reading list, no time for reading while in school.

  • J. Bo

    My sister introduced me to Laurie Colwin’s work on a family vacation over 20 years ago, and I was instantly smitten (in a short story later expanded into the novel “Happy All the Time,” there is a minor character improbably and hilariously named Betty Helen– anyone who can come up with a name like that is a writer for me). Ever since, I’ve gleefully shared her novels and short stories with friends, and bought dozens of copies of “Home Cooking” and “More Home Cooking” for those beginning a “career” in their own kitchens.

    I was driving home from work one Monday evening in October, 1992, when I heard a familiar-sounding passage being read on NPR– “That’s from Laurie Colwin!” I thought happily… and then my heart sank. I pulled off the road and wept as I listened to the rest of her obituary. I know I wasn’t alone among her readers in feeling that I had personally lost a friend.

    BUT… we still have her books, as well as these wise words:

    “No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.”

    I feel her presence whenever I roast a chicken, cook lentils, bake gingerbread… or resort to a large pepperoni pizza after a particularly “repulsive dinner.”

    P.S. I have read that a collection of Colwin’s letters is in the works; keep your eyes peeled!

  • Ah but the real question is where do you store Colwin’s books after you’ve read them? With your cookbooks or your essays? Love her stuff…

  • Kailie

    Oh! I just read your article in the magazine this morning as I was waiting for the dentist to come work on me. I am travelling to Paris next Spring and will be sure to put these places on my list (the one that never seems to end). Thanks!

  • J. Bo

    FYI, an very nice piece about Colwin from The Washington Post a few years back:

    (This was where I read about the letters collection.)

  • Maria

    My “Home Cooking” Laurie Colwin books are stained and splattered and kept with the cookbooks in the kitchen. She is wonderful. I especially recommend her chocolate cakes. . .can’t remember if they’re from volume one or two and her lentil soup recipe was the recipe that launched about zillion batches from my kitchen. Her “fake” tandori chicken is also yummy. My natural tendancy is to be an anal retentive chef, a real follow-the-recipe type, but when I first read her books . . going on ten years ago now, her charming writing and true-life stories with real-life food were the inspiration I needed to let loose and be more creative in the kitchen. I didn’t agree with everything she said. . . I love to barbeque and making pie pastry isn’t THAT HARD, but I loved that she was honest and opinionated.

  • Sonia W.

    I first discovered Laurie Colwin almost 20 years ago at the age of 16 – I was working in the library shelving books and came across Home Cooking by accident. Since then I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve read her books. It’s a thrill to me when I meet someone who knows and loves her writing – they always turn out to be kindred spirits. And isn’t it interesting that so many of us remember her death so clearly? I was 21, and between working full-time, going to school, and planning my wedding, I hadn’t looked at a newspaper in months. But one day in October 1992 I felt compelled to pick up the Washington Post and the first thing I saw was an appreciation that Jonathan Yardley, the Post’s book critic, wrote after Laurie’s death. Mr. Yardley’s final words – “Dear girl, dear friend, the world is too much smaller without you” – made me cry then, and what’s amazing to me is that they have the same effect on me even now. I think so many of us who love her writing have never stopped missing her.

    Now that I am expecting my first child, I’m happily re-reading all of Laurie’s adventures with her daughter Rosa. I can’t wait to see what foods “surprise and delight” my son. I’m looking forward to making him gingerbread – my all-time favorite. And one of these days I will make Laurie’s steamed chocolate pudding again. The first time I made it I left it on the kitchen counter to cool and by the time I came back my husband had devoured the entire thing. He’s never read her books, but it seems he’s a fan nonetheless.

  • What a lovely post, Clothilde!

    I’ve seen Laurie’s books in the bookstore and always debated whether to buy them. I think you’ve convinced me!

  • Julie

    Hello! Long time reader but new to blogging…just wanted to know the name and author of the history book on french cakes and pastries you mentioned. Sounds like a wonderful book to dive into!

  • Ellen

    Just wanted to let you know that we’ve made your blueberry coffee cake recipe oodles of times now. Adjusted a few things…it’s so delicious! We’ve also tried variations on a theme…strawberry (not so good), banana w/cinnamon, (lovely)…next the chocolate chip maybe with some almonds? Thanks so much for posting the original. We love it.

  • Zadie Smith’s latest is great! I know the reviews were stingy because it isn’t in the same wild, frenetic style of White Teeth, but it isn’t the same book! They should just read it again if they miss WT so much (that’s what I do).

  • J. Bo

    Another lovely, personal piece about Colwin (first published in “Gourmet”) by Anna Quindlen:

  • I have never seen a Laurie Colwin book in New Zealand. Actually I had not heard of her until today. Thanks Clotilde for introducing me to a new author.

  • gingerpale

    Can’t help adding one more voice to the praise for Laurie Colwin. Don’t miss out, read her! 2 other thoughts: I’m very glad to see the book-related C&Z forums, food and reading being big favorites, fine fun for me! Also, when are we going to El Bulli, it is this summer, yes?

  • Laurie Colwin was my very first inspiration in the kitchen. My gingerbread recipe is an ode to her and I still make her chocolate & pear pudding when I’m blue.
    I have written about her as well:

    and as we can see from all these warm comments, she continues to affect so many.

    I second the Ruth Reichl recommendations, all 3 of her books are wonderful. I think we are lucky to have Gourmet Magazine in her hands as we can look forward to more writers who write about food with the most delicious prose!

  • All — So glad (though not at all surprised) that so many of you love her books. I’m also happy to hear that her second collection of essays is even better than the first. Something to look forward to!

    Linda and Shuna — I have read all three of Ruth Reichl’s books, and very much enjoyed them!

    Kelley — That’s a good suggestion, but somehow I have a problem with the idea of storing some of my books upside down: it would be more comfortable for me, but what about them? ;)

    J.Bo — I will watch out for that collection of letters, thanks for letting us know about it.

    Julie — The book about French pastries and cakes is in French, published by Flammarion. The author is Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat, and the (beautiful) title is “La Très Belle et Très Exquise Histoire des gâteaux et des friandises”.

    Ellen — So glad you like that cake! Love the banana suggestion.

    Tejal — I read the stingy reviews also, but thought hey, I love Zadie Smith (I think I liked Autograph Man better than White Teeth), I’m reading her new book!

  • Kai

    A bit off-topic, but your father has now moved on from Vance to LeGuin? As in Ursula K. Le Guin of the Earthsea series? Wow! She’s a favorite, second only to LOTR, and I’ve read the entire series (five books, up to The Other Wind, and I have her award-winning novels and short stories, too) over and over since college, and I’m keeping my copy for my son and daughter. And although I can’t read French, at least now, with your father’s talents, Le Guin can now be enjoyed by French readers. Felicitations!

  • It would seem from the comments here Laurie Colwin is alive and well. She is a treat, enjoyed many times over.

  • Beryl

    Jeffrey Steingarten has a second book out!? Thanks so much for letting us know. I laughed myself silly over the first one. He’s the best reason to buy “Vogue.”

  • I’ve not read any of Colwin’s work, but am headed to Amazon the minute I leave here. What a special touching post and so many wonderful comments. I thoroughly enjoyed Reichl’s books. Another writer who usually involves food, is terribly witty and opinionated, is Linda Ellerbee. You might enjoy her as well.

  • Molly


    Quelle coincidence! I have both copies of Laurie Colwin sitting next to me, ready to hand them over to my mother whom I discovered, today, has never read her, an enviable positition indeed. They are treasures, however bittersweet (though they stand up well to at least three readings, I can affirm!).

    As an aside, have been reading, eating and enjoying your blog for 2+ years now, and commend you heartily. I often think it is the best food bloggers of today who are picking up where Colwin’s Home Cooking left off.

    Cheers from Seattle on the book!

  • charlotte

    As I was reading the post and all the comments about Anna Quindlen, her name sounded so familiar. I turned around and looked at my bookcase and there it was… A Short Guide to a Happy Life, a book my sister gave me for Christmas inscribed “For my beautiful sister Love Love Love ’00”. Thank you for reminding me… and for showing me many more beautiful words by Anna to read!

  • simone

    An American friend gave me Home Cooking….only last week. Laurie Colwin wrote that she was a fan of Barbara Pym – and I was smitten. I absolutely loved Home Cooking and had no idea that she had died in 1992 and since then have been SO upset and wanted to find out more about her. The warmth in her writing is so wonderful and I am so glad to find this site.

  • susan

    Thanks for this post–it’s like unexpectedly running into an old friend.

  • Metlantis

    Laurie Colwin saved me countless billable hours of therapy during a dark cold Chicago winter while I was caring for a sick parent.

    Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen shared my beside table with a box of Kleenex and warmed my soul when my mother, a cook of legendary talent, was unable to even walk into her kitchen.

    I was so sad to hear Colwin passed suddenly. She will always be within arms reach to me – I still keep her close at hand in the small bookcase next to my bed.

  • Clotilde, thanks so much for this recommendation. I had never heard of Laurie Colwin before, but as soon as I read this post, I rushed off to to order this book. I just hope it arrives before my long flight to the UK — this would be the perfect, quiet time to savor this book. Thanks again for the recco!

  • Renate

    Laurie Colwin was a real gem as far as writing and conveying cooking were concerned. I adored her books and articles. However, Laurie’s recipes all have one big bad enormous fault and that was her they were frequently inedible. For some reason they were for the most part wrong and she always left something out of the recipe or had the wrong temperature or something was omitted in the directions. The biggest mistake which is now shrouded in fabled mystique: the 1988 article in Gourmet about Black Cake.

    Corwin fans and foodies have spent years trying to figure out why the recipe in Home Cooking that was also published in Gourmet – does not work.

    So, before you invest a whole lot of time and money in a Black Cake endeavor; be warned!

    I wrote Groumet and they do not know what the problem is/was with the recipe.

    Heheheheh, it took me years but I know the secret! and I am not telling. You will have to buy my book. Cheers, Renate

  • Renate

    P.S. I think you cannot show a copy of the page of Lauries Colwin’s book in your photo because there is still a copy right on those things. Please take your photo off the top of the page out of respect to her family who own the rights.

  • Your papounet

    Quotes and extracts of reasonably short length, in a context of literary appreciation, analysis, critique, do not infringe a writer’s copyright. I daresay those conditions are met in the present case, particularly in this format !

  • J. Bo

    Dear Renate:

    Considering that there is only ONE sentence reproduced in its entirety in the photograph posted, you might pull in your outraged horns re: “copy right” [sic] infringement. Clotilde is not reproducing text for profit and is in no way legally or morally offending the rights of Ms. Colwin’s family.

    As to the subject of her “inedible” recipes– I’ve personally recreated many with great success, as have (obviously) several of the other posters here. Granted, some recipes are better than others; some could use a bit of test-kitchen tweaking; and the black cake recipe is, indeed, a puzzle in need of solving. There’s no question that Ms. Colwin wasn’t a kitchen chemist, or, perhaps, much of a transcriber. HOWEVER… your posts come across more meanspirited, smug, and self-righteous than anything else… except, perhaps, none too well-written.

    I can only hope that, in addition to revealing your discovered “secret” of the fabled black cake, your book will prove to us all that you are capable of a kinder spirit than displayed here… not to mention the wisdom to accept professional editing (AND basic copyediting), because, if your prose in this thread is any indication, your literary/culinary career is foundering before it’s truly begun.

  • chris

    I also have an unread book shelf, it seems quite natural and I’m glad to hear someone else does this.

    When I moved I spent several weeks reading through the books on the shelf, and deciding which books to sell without reading!

  • misspixie

    Dear Clotilde,

    I mean this in only the kindest of ways, but I miss your more regular postings! It seems like you are posting much less frequently now than you used too. I would imagine it’s probably the book–and I daresay you’re smart to build anticipation–but I miss the regular check-in with a Parisian cook. I know I have no standing to demand more posts, but I hope you’ll come back and post more often soon. I miss it!

  • Kai – I believe my father has filled you in about his most recent translations, but it is indeed Ursula Le Guin!

    Beryl – Steingarten’s second collection of columns has been out for a while now, but I got it only recently.

    Janice – Thanks for the Ellerbee recommendation. Which one of her books would you suggest I start with?

    Misspixie – The slower posting rhythm has everything to do with the book: I’m not trying to build anticipation, I’m just trying to get the manuscript ready in time…

  • J. Bo

    Clotilde, the Ellerbee book Janice is referring to is “Take Big Bites: Adventures Around the World and Across the Table.”

  • There’s been a run on Laurie Colwin books! I went to a decent size Barnes & Nobles on Lex & 86th street and I was very lucky to get the last copy Home Cooking. What’s up with that. Doesn’t B&N read C&Z? They better get cracking…The Oprah effect is happening

  • P.S. Thank you J.Bo for the Washington Post link. It got me up & looking for Colwin again. Laurie went to my highschool in Philadelphia (her sister was in my class) so we all read her in Gourmet Magazine religiously. But it’s been too long…

  • reading your post i couldnt help but be reminded of a book by Nick Hornby called the Polysyllabic Spree. Its about hoarding unread books and its quite enjoyable :-)

  • Caroline

    I happened upon Home Cooking quite by accident while browsing Amazon. I wasn’t intending on buying that day, but when I read the synopsis and the readers reviews on the books, my curiosity was aroused. I have never regretted my decision. I view her as a culinary mother, just from the warmth in her writing.
    After reading Laurie’s essays, I was overjoyed at having met her through her books, but also over-whelmingly sad at the thought that she had died and that I would never meet her in person. But what a brilliant legacy she has left for those who enjoy cooking (and for those that don’t), and those that have yet to discover her.

    By the way, I have never seen Twin Peaks. I think there was always something else I wanted to watch on a different channel! :0)

  • Susan Gainen

    Laurie Colwin has been my kitchen “friend” for decades. I loved her columns in Gourmet, and her recipe for Black Cake sent me on a cross-county search for its key ingredient and, after my first crock of Black Cake Sludge had been aging on my kitchen counter for two months, my confusion over what to bake it in, sent me right to her. She calls for “deep pans,” and in the very early 80s, I had no clue what that was. My calls to Wms Sonoma and Bridge Kitchenware were interesting, but unhelpful. Laurie Colwin was then listed in the phone book, and I called her. She said that although she had never actually baked from that recipe (which is vaguely discernable in a careful reading of her essay) because she found a retail source for it just after she’d written about it, she suggested springform pans, and I took her advice. Anyone who has ever made this excellent cake knows that it makes six or more cakes — depending on the number of pans you have. Iced with Fannie Farmer’s Vanilla Fudge Frosting, they are my ticket to many holiday festivities, and part of many annual holiday boxes. Add that to her flawless recipe for Corn Relish and the estimable Plum Jam, and I feel as if my “friend” is in the kitchen with me, year in and year out.

  • I love Laurie Colwin, too, and I also had that same reaction of actual grief that she wasn’t alive. funny how you can have these emotional reactions to people you’ve never met, huh?

  • Christine G.

    I noticed you also have Zaydie Smith’s book on your unread shelf (I have one of those too, they are a must in every busy reader’s life!); I encourage you to read it as soon as you have the time, it’s a very enjoyable read.

    Thanks for the Colwin tip. I love food books, one of my favorites is “On Rue Tatin”. And I love your blog, I’m looking forward to your book. I read the Julia/Julie book and thought it was great. What a wonderful convergence…food and books! Yummy.

  • like a lot of the commenters, I turned to Laurie’s column in Gourmet as soon as I received the magazine. I was beyond shocked when I heard she died. I have both of her home cooking books and I’ve read them over and over again( the only books that I can say this about). She was an absolutly wonderful writer.

  • Clotilde,
    Laurie Colwin’s husband, now retired, was one of my editors at Soho Press. I had no idea she cooked and had a column in Gourment…now I’ll have to read this, many thanks for bringing her wonderful writing to eveyone’s attention.

  • Melanie

    I love Laurie Colwin, I have all of her books as well as the articles she wrote for Gourmet. I was really sad when she passed away. Laurie’s writing was filled with enthusiasm and warmth – you felt as if you got to know a bit of her through her words. Your writing does much the same thing Clotilde, you just smile when you’re reading. I’m a long time fan of this blog and I’m looking forward to your book.
    Cara, I enjoy your books also perhaps you could put a Laurie reference in the next one.

  • Great suggestion, Melanie…

  • Pat

    For all of you who love her writing, do know there is a second volume of her food writing, “More Home Cooking.” Also, I cannot stress enough that her novels are absolutely delightful. I have no idea if they are still in print — I read some in college, so they are over 20 years old — but they are worth sourcing through used book dealers.

  • Kerrie

    It is so wonderful to find out that there are other devoted Laurie Colwin fans. I miss her voice and still re-read her cookbooks and novels just to hear that unique point of view. I often make the wet gingerbread recipe and the chocolate cake with buttermilk. And everytime I roast a chicken I still check my roasting times with Laurie.

    Nigella Lawson’s How to Eat is a close cousin to Laurie’s cookbooks. Nigella herself notes that she received a copy of Home Cooking part way through writing her book and says had she received it sooner she may not have written hers. She even seems to channel some of Laurie’s voice and when she is “evangelical” about something, I can only think of Laurie’s fried chicken recipe.

  • stephanie

    Make Laurie Colwin’s tomato pie and you’ll love her even more. I’ve made about a billion variations of it–one of my favorite summer suppers.

    And as for her accuracy in relaying her recipes, any of us who learned to cook from aunts and grandmothers–“You know, honey, you use the juice of one lemon, unless it looks dry or you want it more tart or you decide to leave it out or you decide to use lime or orange instead…” can usually make something surpassingly edible from the directions. But women who know secrets to wonderful recipes and gloat instead of share aren’t the type usually found around my family’s tables…

    Okay, change in plans–tomato pie tonight!

  • kathyw

    Enjoying the comments about food writing that ‘strikes a chord’ – for me that would be old Gourmet magazines (around the 50s up through the beginning of the 70s.) They just transport me to another world, sensual and colorful the way modern Gourmet does not. I can’t give up the occasional rereading of an article about a breakfast in a Bucks County farmhouse kitchen (just an example) – that is all there is to the article and there were so many articles just like that… Lovely, relaxing, bittersweet.

  • Beryl

    By now I’ve gotten both “Home Cooking” books from the library and devoured them (no pun intended), laughing all the way through them and reading excerpts to my husband.

    Before I had even finished the second one I had ordered my own copies to own. I know I’ll want to read them again and again and use some of the recipes.

  • Laurie Colwin is a great favourite of mine. I discovered her through her columns in Gourmet magazine, and they became the first page I’d turn to, for as long as they lasted. I miss her still. As Anna Quindlen’s article makes clear, to those of us who read her, she felt like an old friend. Her prose, whether on food or another subject, was always marvellously clear, warm and direct. Her writing followed the rhythms of speech, and she had the knack of making it seem simple, which is rarer and more difficult than it sounds. I prefer More Home Cooking slightly over its predecessor, if only because it has at least two recipes in it that are always, always good: an adaptation from Delia Smith (Colwin loved English cookbooks above all others) for Damp Gingerbread, which is the best thing of its kind I’ve tasted; and Flourless Chocolate Cake, adapted from Elizabeth David, which is the best of its kind. Not all the recipes are foolproof, but I wouldn’t want to do without these.

    Her novels, though hard to find, are not to be missed. They’re as funny, as big-hearted, as filled with good sense, as her essays from the kitchen.

    I’m really enjoying your site; thanks for mentioning one of my heroes.


    Bert Greene is another writer who died too soon…there are books and essays although I am not sure whether they are still in print. I miss Laurie even now. I finished Ruth Reichl’s books last year, and was in awe.

  • tonight must be my lucky night!

    I stumbled across Laurie Colwin’s books on while looking for something else and was smitten by the loving reviews readers had left there. Needless to say, I had never heard of her since. Turned to google to get some info and landed here – strange as it seems, I had never heard of Clotilde either, and I’m supposed to be both a foodie and a blogger :o)
    All in all, two marvelous finds in one night are more than anyone could ask for, aren’t they? So the book has been bought and this gem of a blog instantly bookmarked (and linked very soon).

    Thanks Clotilde!

    milo from Italy

  • Katrina

    I love Laurie Colwin’s books. I’m confused about her gingerbread. In the recipe for her gingerbread, she calls for STEEN’s MOLASSES and later, in this same recipe, she calls it STEEN’s PURE CANE SUGAR. Does anyone know which is correcy and also which is best? I ordered DARK MOLASSES from STEEN’s and now I am afraid I may have the wrong ingredient. Thanks- anyone !

Get the newsletter

Receive FREE email updates with all the latest recipes, plus exclusive inspiration and Paris tips. You can also choose to be notified when a new post is published.

View the latest edition of the newsletter.