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Honey from a Weed

by Patience Gray

from the publisher

Honey From a Weed' is less a cookbook than a personal recollection told through distinct food memories. Legendary author Patience Gray champions self-sufficiency and doing more with less. Her nomadic, rural life story packs in more than just traditional recipes, offering readers a deeper understanding of the way we eat.

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Recommended by

Caroline Conran

Food writer

This is the beautiful story of finding that less is more, of an extreme existence as near to the essential as possible. Patience Gray and her sculptor husband are doing what so many of us have fantasized about, living off the land, close to the soil (or in their case Tuscan rocks), surrounded by wild herbs, free of all the things we complain about in modern life - Water with chemicals! Traffic! Pollution! Out of season tomatoes! It is a beguiling read and it has a strong flow that pulls you in. The recipes are usually for the most meagre of treats, but we are convinced of their excellence, and of the author’s integrity.

Annabel Langbein

Author and celebrity cook

I got this book when it first came out in 1986 and fell in love with the subsistence life that Gray documented so passionately as she journeyed around wild remote places in the southern Mediterranean with her sculptor partner. Her writing took me into a peasant life and culture that (at the time of publication) remained largely unchanged for centuries, with simple recipes that capture the heart of a traditional Mediterranean life.

Jason Goodwin

Author and historian

Perhaps my favourite cookery book ever: discursive, erudite, amusing, delicious - it's a reflection on a near-vanished Mediterranean culture of poverty and community, fast and feast, without once becoming cloying or sentimental. As she follows her stonemason around quarries from Carrara to Naxos, she teaches you more about cuisine than fifty plump illustrated cookbooks together, and connects food to place, perfectly.

Tamasin Day-Lewis

Writer, film maker

Like MFK Fisher, Gray is interested in everything that is tangential to food, life, the place of the table in our lives, context, friendships and, most importantly, good prose. I want to read the best writing in a food book or there is simply no point, food-writing is not an ancillary thing.

Barbara Sweeney

Food writer

An adventure such as this, roughing it in small rural communities in Italy, Greece and Spain in the 60s and 70s, wouldn't be possible in the same way today. This is a book of courage, curiosity and thoughtfulness – and damn fine writing.

Anna Thomas

Screenwriter, filmmaker and author

This is a book I open at random and find delight -- and then after a while realize that I’ve been reading for an hour. It is transporting. Patience Gray is such a beautiful writer; in the genre of food memoir there is no one better.

Annabel Abbs

Novelist, cook and food blogger

I often turn to this book when I can’t sleep. Gray’s foraging escapades, her erudite writing, the stories of sun, sea and wild weeds, are both exotic and soothing. And who knew what you could do with a few dandelion leaves?

Tom Norrington-Davies


As much a journal as a cookbook, I like the slightly random way in which the recipes are gathered. Mediterranean food is so often glamorised and dolled up. This is the real thing.

Robin Harford

Ethnobotanist, forager and creator of Eat Weeds

I just like the way this book is written, like a gentle journey through the Italian countryside dotted with lovely recipes, many of them using wild edibles.

Annie Bell

Food writer

This book is to do with a spirit or sentiment, rustic cooking at its most romantic, it inspires, and I will always feel soothed by its lyrical prose.

Laura Mason

Author and food historian

Yet another world again, and a fantastic evocation of a bohemian life in Mediterranean countries. Nice detail about vegetables, herbs and fruit.

Skye Gyngell

Chef and Author

One of the best books written about food but it's more than that it teaches you to really think about food! Even the recipes read like a story!

Letitia Clark

Food writer

This is an extraordinary book: more a journal of history, personal reminiscence and illustrations. A genre all of its own.

Paul Levy

Writer and former chair of the Oxford Symposium on Food & Cookery

Enthrallingly eccentric, and brings back memories of staying with the author in Puglia during a drought and heat wave.

Joyce Molyneux


We had a copy in Cubelles, Spain to answer any queries that occured when shopping.

Tamar Adler

Food writer

Jeffrey Hamelman

Bakery Director, King Arthur Flour Company

Aglaia Kremezi

Food writer and journalist

Chris Stueart

Co-founder, FOOD-X

Edward Behr

Editor, The Art of Eating

John Corbett

Food writer, editor

Russ Parsons

Food columnist of LA Times

Harry Lester

Cook and restaurateur

Lucy Malouf

Food writer and editor

Julee Rosso

Cook and food writer

Colman Andrews

Food writer and editor

Darina Allen

Owner and Founder of the Ballymaloe Cookery School

Carol Field

Food writer and broadcaster

Frank Ruta

Executive Chef, The Grill Room at Capella Washington, D.C.

Chris Fischer

Chef and farmer

Harold McGee

Author and lecturer

Stephanie Alexander

Food writer, former restaurateur, food educator

Naomi Duguid

Writer and photographer

Bob Hart


Linda Pelaccio

Culinary historian