“Are you one of those Elizabeth David junkies?”

The scene: A suburban charity shop in Wellington, New Zealand. Two elderly women (let’s call them Beryl and Meryl) preside over the counter, keeping an eye on the shoppers on a cold Saturday morning. A much younger woman (let’s call her Lucy) approaches them, clutching a water-stained and battered paperback.

Beryl (looking at the book, then at Lucy): “Are you one of those Elizabeth David junkies?”

Lucy (somewhat taken aback at her aggressive tone): “Err, umm, well, yes, I suppose I am. And I like saving old books.”

Beryl (picking up the book gingerly): “Hmm. Yes, we get people in here like you. There’s another Elizabeth David down the back you know, called ‘Cooking in Summer’ or something.”

Lucy (smiling): “Yes, I saw that one but I’ve got that already and I thought I’d leave it for someone else.”

Meryl (suddenly taking an interest): “What’s this book? French Country Cooking? Who’s Elizabeth David?

[Lucy begins to speak but Beryl overrides her]

Beryl: “Some sort of cookery writer. Normally we sell her books on Trade Me because (sniffs imperiously) there are these junkies who want to buy them.”

Meryl (looks at Lucy to assess junkie-ness, then at the book): “Oh. Isn’t that funny? I’ve never heard of Elizabeth whats-her-name. I thought all the great chefs were men.”

Beryl: “Well, yes. $3 please.”




  1. September 2, 2017 / 6:40 am

    Hah! This made me chuckle. I get a similar reaction whenever I go up with a baking book I’ve found – usually combined with a ‘wotcha baking then?’. But I love my local charity shop as a source of cookbooks. They often have unique or unusual books which I pounce on, but their shelves do groan under the weight of Jamie Oliver volumes. 🙂 xx

    • lucycorry
      September 4, 2017 / 7:50 am

      That’s so funny re Jamie Oliver’s books. NZ charity shops seem full of 1980s/90s microwave cookbooks or very dog-eared collections of muffin recipes, so it was a real treat to come across the Elizabeth David. I’ve actually come across some other treasures by NZ authors recently for $1 each; I felt like giving the ladies’ a lecture on how they should really be selling them for a lot more (but then thought better of it, paid up and made a swift getaway!)

  2. September 5, 2017 / 9:57 pm

    All chefs who THINK they’re great ARE men – well, pretty much – and that’s why I buy cookery books by women. In all the time I’ve spent in charity shops (and that’s a lot of time, as you’d know if you could see inside my wardrobe) I don’t think I’ve ever come across and a book by ED. I’ve got to agree about the vast number of Jamie Oliver books, though, closely followed by everything Nigella and Gordon Ramsay have ever written and recently I’ve noticed a lot of books about cooking with chocolate alongside a lot of diet books. I’m sure there’s some significant conclusion about society to be drawn from that, although not by me, obviously.

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