Get ready for the return of BBC series The Durrells and WIN a copy of Dining With the Durrells: Stories and Recipes from the Cookery Archive of Mrs Louise Durrell
While author Gerald Durrell (little Gerry, on whose memoirs the series is based) was renowned for writing about his love for animals, his exceptional skills also meant he could capture the wonderful food memories of his family. “We lolled in the sea until it was time to return for tea, another of Mother’s gastronomic triumphs. Tottering mounds of hot scones; crisp paper-thin biscuits; cakes like snowdrifts, oozing jam; cakes dark, rich and moist, crammed with fruit; brandy snaps brittle as coral and overflowing with honey,” he wrote.
Food always played an important role in their lives on Corfu – from long, lazy lunches on the terrace of their amazing villa to elaborate picnics in the olive groves and fun-filled parties under the starry skies overlooking the never-ending sea vistas. “The house was redolent with the scent of herbs and the sharp tang of garlic and onions, and the kitchen was full of a bubbling selection of pots, among which she [Louisa, his mother] moved, spectacles askew, muttering to herself,” Gerry wrote.
Not that things were always that fabulous. There was also, of course, that disastrous time Louise and her family set up a market stall selling all sorts of British foodie favourites such as spotted dick, Scotch eggs and toad in the hole – and ended up poisoning most of the village thanks to non-existent cooling practices and the summer heat.
In fact, food was so much a part of their lives, that a new book called Dining With the Durrells: Stories and Recipes from the Cookery Archive of Mrs Louise Durrell has recently been released. Written by botanist David Shimwell with input from Lee Durrell (Gerry’s widow) the book is based on original archives from the Durrell family. Many of the recipes were hand-written by Louisa’s own mother and date back to 1887.
Interestingly, the book notes that Louisa’s main food inspiration actually came from her childhood memories of growing up in North-West provinces of northern India, where her family had lived for many generations. Home to her was not England but India, and curry was a major feature in her cooking. (The book includes a recipe for Gerry’s Favourite Chicken Curry.) However, the influences of living on a Greek island could not escape her – and you’ll also find recipes for taramasalata and cuttlefish soupya, a recipe that came from their eccentric kitchen helper Lugaretzia, amongst many others, including British favourites such as Dixie-Durrell Scones with Fig and Ginger Jam. There’s also a chapter devoted to Cooking with Sven, the wonderful Swedish man Louise was intent on marrying before he confessed he was gay.
Meanwhile, get into the spirit of Greece with these lip-smacking recipes!
Season four will be the final season of the series, and sees the family dealing with the heartbreak they experienced in season three in different ways. Louisa decides to turn the villa into a guest house, while Larry is trying to get his risqué Black Book published. Gerry, meanwhile, plans to open his own zoo.
The Durrells starts on BBC First (DStv Channel 119) on Friday 7 June at 20:00