One of my favourite cookery books is ‘English with a Difference’ by Steven Wheeler, first published in 1988. It a seasonal recipe book, taking the cook through the seasons with dishes which use the best produce of the time of year. Each chapter has an introduction with a lovely photo and a paragraph or two about what’s available in the shops and in the garden. September, he quite rightly says is a month of endings and beginnings – the end of summer and the beginning of the drift into autumn. He mentions the traditional harvest festivals – do churches and school still have them? And he goes on to list the wonderful fruits coming into season, the common apples and pears, and the more unusual, greengages and damsons. He also talks about the fruit vegetables, meaning of course such things as tomatoes, aubergines and marrows. vegetables, shellfish, fishy fish and game, all are appearing in the shops and markets.
His recipes are interesting, different, but not so extraordinary that you have to go out and buy weird condiments or spices, or peculiar types of pasta or grain. For example, his September starters include fifteen minute chicken and parsley soup, a salad of smoked eel with crisp English pears, and Colchester oysters with black pepper and Stilton. Other recipes include tomatoes, herbs, figs and a combination of iced melon and wild blackberries – doesn’t that sound nice? He promotes regional produce – Devonshire mussels and Brixham squid, and hedgerow harvest, crab apples, field mushrooms, blackberries. And because it’s the harvest time of year, he has a section on pickles, jams and jellies.
The book is no longer published, but you can find it on Amazon: