‘Chickens’ by Emma McClure for Slightly Foxed Issue 9
‘Chickens’ by Emma McClure for Slightly Foxed Issue 9

April News: Take the yolks of five-hundred eggs . . .

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Now the year has turned and the bluebells and crocuses are bravely weathering the winds whipping around Hoxton Square, we’re looking forward hopefully.

So far the year is shaping up to be another most enjoyable one. We’ve sent the summer issue off to the printer, we’ve chosen the cloth for our four new notebooks, we’ve signed off on two new Plain Foxed Editions and two new Cubs (all for the autumn) and we’ve got a couple of new publishing ideas to chew over for later in the year.

But before we race too far ahead of ourselves into June and beyond, on Monday 1 May our intrepid reader Katy MacMillan-Scott will be embarking on the first leg of her three-week literary hike from The Hook of Holland to Budapest in the footprints of Paddy Leigh Fermor. Thank you so much to everyone who has bought a book from our Adventures for Harriet online bookshelves, and shared news with friends across Europe in support. With your help Katy has already raised over £2,600 for Bowel Cancer UK.

In our last missive we went on a great adventure with our hero Paddy and, to continue with our spring theme of far-flung adventures and intrepid explorers, this month we’re turning up the heat a notch with one of our most fascinating and stylish ‘lady adventurers’ Lesley Blanch. In the words of the excellent website dedicated to all things Blanch, ‘Savvy, self-possessed and talented, Blanch did what she wanted and earned a good living at a time when women were expected to stay at home and be subservient to the needs of husband and children. She was glamorous and stylish and, in her own unique way, distinctly powerful’. She was certainly all those things, with a generous dash of romanticism, and perhaps a good pinch of the fantastical too. Writing in Slightly Foxed Issue 50, Richard Mabey asks,

Did Lesley really have all these romantic adventures, extract the culinary (and other) secrets of every Sultan and servant girl she met? It isn’t unfair to see her as a kind of Scheherazade, spinning elaborate tales of her gastronomic Arabian nights. This, after all, was her style in life and in her writing. And it was part of the aim of her book to insist that food was an imaginative and at times fantastical art. Her stories of the origins of dishes are full of myths and legends, of Golems and lost children and outrageous discoveries: ‘One classic early-nineteenth century Russian cookbook contains a recipe which opens on this flamboyant note: Take the yolks of five hundred eggs . . . I wonder what happened to the whites.’

On the subject of eggs and their festive connotations, the SF office will be closing at 5.30 p.m. today until 9.30 a.m. on Tuesday 18 April for the Easter break. Our online shop is open all hours so do feel free to order books and goods or renew your subscription while we’re away, and we’ll send all orders out as soon as we’re back at our desks next week.

Please read on for the main course, in which we travel round the world in eighty dishes. And to follow, a few spring reading ideas, literary dates for your diary, the usual feast of recent missives from readers (including our new slot, The Foxtagram) and more besides.

We’ll look forward to being in touch with many of you again next week. Meantime we send you our very best wishes for Easter

Jennie, Anna, Olivia, Hattie & Katy

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