Fasting and Feasting

Fasting and Feasting

The Life of Visionary Food Writer Patience Gray

Book - 2017
Average Rating:
Rate this:

A New York Times Notable Book for 2017--Now in Paperback

For more than thirty years, Patience Gray--author of the celebrated cookbook Honey from a Weed--lived in a remote area of Puglia in southernmost Italy. She lived without electricity, modern plumbing, or a telephone, grew much of her own food, and gathered and ate wild plants alongside her neighbors in this economically impoverished region. She was fond of saying that she wrote only for herself and her friends, yet her growing reputation brought a steady stream of international visitors to her door. This simple and isolated life she chose for herself may help explain her relative obscurity when compared to the other great food writers of her time: M. F. K. Fisher, Elizabeth David, and Julia Child.

So it is not surprising that when Gray died in 2005, the BBC described her as an "almost forgotten culinary star." Yet her influence, particularly among chefs and other food writers, has had a lasting and profound effect on the way we view and celebrate good food and regional cuisines. Gray's prescience was unrivaled: She wrote about what today we would call the Slow Food movement--from foraging to eating locally--long before it became part of the cultural mainstream. Imagine if Michael Pollan or Barbara Kingsolver had spent several decades living among Italian, Greek, and Catalan peasants, recording their recipes and the significance of food and food gathering to their way of life.

In Fasting and Feasting, biographer Adam Federman tells the remarkable--and until now untold--life story of Patience Gray: from her privileged and intellectual upbringing in England, to her trials as a single mother during World War II, to her career working as a designer, editor, translator, and author, and describing her travels and culinary adventures in later years. A fascinating and spirited woman, Patience Gray was very much a part of her times but very clearly ahead of them.

Publisher: White River Junction, Vermont,, Chelsea Green Publishing,, [2017]
ISBN: 9781603586085
Branch Call Number: 641.5092 PAT FED
Characteristics: 371 pages


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Dec 05, 2017

Some biographies are written as novels, some are written as a PhD thesis; this one is more in the latter category. Although I'm interested in women's history and how pioneers in their fields proceed along their ground-breaking journeys, sometimes it's not the facts and the names and the dates, but the ideas and the mistakes and the thoughts that you really crave. This was so informative, perhaps too informative for my interest, as I kind of got bored reading about so many people and so many people's children, and who went where and with whom and where they lived and what they thought of mushrooms.

Perfect if you like a ton of research on a fascinating maverick, but too dry for my random interest in historical figures I've never before heard of.

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at the Library

To Top