Leaves from our Tuscan Kitchen was first published in 1899 and became a classic both in its own time, and from the many later printings, a classic to generations of cooks after. It was a pioneer in the field of cookery books and appeared at a time when vegetables were considered merely as an adjunct to the main course, and little attention was paid to good fresh vegetables as a dish on their own.
The author, Janet Ross (1842-1927) lived at Poggio Gherardo, a villa outside Florence and was a well-known writer and figure in the Anglo-American community of Florence in her day. Her own account of her life and her friendships can be found in her book, The Fourth Generation (London 1912). Janet Ross was the daughter of Lucie Duff Gordon (1821-1869), author of the magnificent Letters from Egypt. The recipes which Janet Ross collected and faithfully recorded in Leaves from our Tuscan Kitchen were those of Guiseppe Volpi, her cook for over thirty years.
In 1973 Michael Waterfield, Janet Ross’ great-great-nephew, at that time himself a cook of renown and a restaurateur, edited and adapted the original edition. Now over thirty years later he has revised and updated that 70s edition and had added a number of new recipes. Though the preparation and cooking of fresh vegetables is the book’s main theme, recipes for risottos, pasta, and soups are included.