P is for Patten, Marguerite

I mentioned Marguerite Patten in my first post (A is for Abundance), and then I realised with some sadness that this wonderful lady has died, aged 99.

Although I was vaguely aware of her cook books, (and she wrote 170 of them, the photograph and her bold signature on the cover of her ‘500 Recipes’ series will bring back memories), it was only recently that I began to read them properly.  Her ‘Eat to Beat Arthritis’ is excellent: I have the beginning of osteo-arthritis in my knees and toes, so I do her arthritis diet once a year. Since I have got into preserving, I’m always dipping into her ‘Jams, Preserves and Chutneys Handbook’ from the Basic Basics series.  Her ‘Feeding the Nation’ cookbook gathers the recipes she promoted during World War 2, with recipes for making sponge cake from potatoes and biscuits from carrots, without wasting a scrap. And the classic ‘Century of British Cooking’, where each chapter covers a decade of the 20th century, giving both recipes and history, has just been re-issued.

She had considerable success as one of the first demonstration cooks, along with Fanny and Johnny Craddock, but she will be remembered best as a distinguished and much loved cookery writer.  Described by Jamie Oliver as ‘a matriarch of the kitchen’, she made it clear that she was a cook, not a chef, and she wrote for ordinary people. I admire her because she understood why it was important for people to know how to cook.  In 2015, the year of her death, when we have an obesity epidemic, an over-reliance on ready meals, and we waste vast amounts of food, her books are still as relevant as ever.

Hilda Elsie Marguerite Patten, cookery writer and broadcaster; 4 November 1915 – 4 June 2015. RIP


  1. I grew up with my mother cooking classic Marguerite Patten recipes and I remember turning the pages of her well thumbed classic cook book in awe of the tome – an inspiration in later life as I draw on my culinary experiences of living in France and Spain whilst never forgetting her classics. Cooking to feed those you love and cherish is one of life’s fundamentals. What an amazing lady Marguerite was and likewise my mother Margaret is.


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