Food in England

by Dorothy Hartley

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Recommended by

Frances Bissell

Food writer

Just wins out for the last place in my list over Good Things in England by Florence White because it tells an important story. She lived at a time when it was possible to remember England as a more agricultural society, and the roots of our culinary traditions. As the notion of seasonality, provenance and localness becomes increasingly important, Dorothy Hartley’s work can be a source of inspiration to us all, cooks, chefs, food writers, retailers and producers alike.

Sarah Beattie

Food writer

In 1991 when I was talking to a publishing director about my first book, he asked about my favourite cookery books. Without hesitation, I said Food in England. It's the second book I had from my dad and I love it because of its social history, its chronicling of the past. It refutes completely the idea that the British have never been a nation of cooks. I love the detail, the vignettes of lives lived in other ways and the recipes of those lives.

Sybil Kapoor

Writer and broadcaster

This book always inspires me, despite the fact that I never actually use her recipes. Dorothy Hartley gives you a sense of how food tasted in an older, more rural England. Her recipes are interspersed with fascinating facts and her own quirky illustrations.

Drew Smith

Author and editor

It is what it says it is, a reportage of English cooking from the days when the countryside was a heartland of cooking, a safe rudder in the more stormy turbulence of fast food and what has come since then. A very edible, erudite slice of history.

Jason Goodwin

Author and historian

On the title page, this quote: ‘Your English housewife must be of chaste thought, stout courage, patient, untyred, watchful, diligent, witty and pleasant...’ It is the Bible of English cookery, regional and historical.

Angela Clutton

Food writer

This book gives a wonderful insight into the history of food in England. It opens the door to understanding how families over the centuries have lived and cooked and eaten.

Tom Parker Bowles

Restaurant Critic, Food Writer and Broadcaster

Clear, precise and written in straightforward, no-nonsense prose, Hartley guides us through all aspects of English food and cookery. Good recipes and wonderful drawings too

Lotte Duncan

Food presenter, writer and eater

I've learnt everything I know about English Food from this book ...and how bloomin' delicious it is and why we cook what we do on this island.

Jennifer McLagan


A book everyone should read. Packed with all sorts of information, where else can you find a recipe using goose fat for stiff joints?

Elisabeth Luard

Food writer and illustrator

Bench-mark go-to for English cooking written at a time when regional cooking was alive and well.

Joyce Molyneux


Rather quirky but always enjoyable.

Jan McCourt

Rare-breed meat producer

Jake Tilson

Artist, graphic designer and author

Glynn Christian

Food writer and author

Kit Chapman


Naomi Duguid

Writer and photographer

Mary-Anne Boermans

Cookbook author