Tea with Diana Henry

Eggs On The Roof Reviews

Salt Sugar Smoke by Diana Henry

Pub­lished by Mitchell Beazley

Septem­ber 2012 - £20.00

The worst party invit­a­tion I’ve ever been sent said: ‘Come to a Pimm’s Party in Regent’s Park. Please bring Pimm’s, cucum­ber and lem­on­ade. We will provide ice and paper cups.’ It was alien in every way to the invit­a­tion I’ve just received to have tea at food writer Diana Henry’s house. I now under­stand the true mean­ing of the phrase ‘what a spread’. Diana’s exquis­ite tea staged a pro­pri­et­or­ial land-grab for the table, spread­ing from north to south and east to west. Now I come to think of it, I have a bet­ter under­stand­ing of the phrase ‘High tea’ too. Diana’s tea was lofty in all the best ways — gen­er­ous in spirit, high on cal­or­ies and monu­mental in scale. I was torn between pho­to­graph­ing my tea and tuck­ing in to it, but as you can see, good man­ners pre­vailed and I cap­tured it on cam­era first.

The tea, to mark the pub­lic­a­tion of Diana’s new book on pre­serving and cur­ing, Salt Sugar Smoke, fea­tured many of her new recipes: per­fumed fig and pomegranate jam, home-cured gravad­lax, an exquis­ite crispy salad of apples and onions mar­in­ated in rice wine vin­egar, pas­sion fruit curd sponge cake and white­cur­rant jelly.

Many books on pre­serving are too hearty and briskly effi­cient for my taste. I like a little poetry with my pec­tin and Diana Henry provides it. Salt Sugar Smoke com­bines both supreme prac­tic­al­ity with a cre­at­ive ima­gin­a­tion — rather like Diana Henry her­self. This is a book that will teach you how to get the per­fect set on your jam, while remind­ing you of Simone de Beauvoir’s won­der­ful evoc­a­tion of the art of jam-making: ‘…the house­wife has caught dur­a­tion in the snare of sugar, she has enclosed life in jars.’

I left Diana’s house with chubby cheeks and a grin. Not only had I eaten one of the best teas of my life, I’d had one of Diana’s cheer­ing pep talks about life and jam. This woman and her books should be made avail­able on the NHS.

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26 thoughts on “Tea with Diana Henry

  1. You lucky thing. Diana Henry is my favour­ite cook­ery writer and she deserves to be bet­ter known. Her pre­serves books is gor­geous and practical.

    • As is this one, Sue. You’d love it. There are a fant­astic range of recipes, includ­ing five for quince.

  2. I’m so jeal­ous! The food and pho­tos look amaz­ing, and I LOVE Diana Henry! Have a lot of her books, def­in­itely con­sid­er­ing get­ting this one now after see­ing some of the recipes (sort of) in the flesh!

  3. A knock­out post in every way. Your pho­tos catch the ambi­ence of tea with Diana Henry per­fectly. Her book sounds wonderful.

  4. I love the Simone de B quote, the close-up of the tea cup mak­ing it look edible ‚even in the rather strange stormy feel­ing light and the idea of get­ting the NHS to issue the book as altern­at­ive med­ic­a­tion is superb. In fact, the whole review is that, superb.
    As someone who’s grown white cur­rants and then com­pos­ted the bush in frus­tra­tion hav­ing made such ter­rible jelly with its ber­ries I feel the need to go and buy the book to now start over!

    • I can vouch for the deli­cious­ness of the white­cur­rant jelly. Thanks so much for leav­ing a com­ment — always a treat for me to see your reactions.

  5. I have never in my life read book reviews as poetic, as enti­cing, as beau­ti­ful as yours. Each review I read here makes me want to buy, no makes it imper­at­ive that I own the book you have reviewed. This is a par­tic­u­larly fas­cin­at­ing write up. Your gor­geous words, per­fect, evoc­at­ive descrip­tions have breathed life into this book. Your lovely tea and meet­ing Diana Henry add to the mar­vel of this book. I have never been one to con­sider mak­ing jam or gravlax but now I want to try.

    • Jamie, you are so gen­er­ous in your praise — a won­der­fully warm-hearted response that has really given me a lift. I do hope you try some of the recipes. I’m aim­ing to make the fig and pomegranate jam today.

  6. Read­ing your post was a lovely vicari­ous exper­i­ence in every way, the writ­ing, the pho­tos, the sentiment.…and calorie-free!
    I am a keen pre­server and this book def­in­itely looks like one for me.

    • If you’re a keen pre­server, this is cer­tainly a book for you. I’m so glad you enjoyed my review — it was great fun to write and of course came with the added bene­fit of a deli­cious tea to boot.

  7. Pingback: Best of the Foodie Blogs: Ten at Ten (40) | Foodies 100

  8. Oh how com­pletely fab­ulous. I love Diana’s poetic writ­ing and I adore the lovely crock­ery spread around the table. The fig and pomegranate jam I’ve already made, but the rest I shall just have to dream about ;-)

  9. I love your blog! Tak­ing a moment out from the coal-face to check the latest post never fails to delight. Tea with Diana Henry is as good as any­thing you’ve ever done. And my favour­ite photo? The bottle labelled with a single word: poire.
    Keep up the good work Eggs on the Roof!

  10. So love the poetry in the pre­serving. I’ve never read Diana Henry before, but you make me want to, espe­cially since I’ve been mak­ing straw­berry jam all after­noon. That Simone de Beau­voir quote elev­ates it to an art… my jars have an extra glow about them now.
    Great to dis­cover your blog — came here via Cooksister’s #ff on Twit­ter today.

    • I’ve cer­tainly got a lot to thank Cook­s­ister for, then! Thank you so much for your won­der­ful com­ment. I love the thought that your jam jars now have an extra glow, cour­tesy of Simone de Beauvoir.

  11. Pingback: Why preserving is back in fashion according to Diana Henry « My Custard Pie

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