Within a few months of its first appearance in 1986 it was hailed as a modern classic. Fiona MacCarthy wrote in The Times that, the book is a large and grandiose life history, a passionate narrative of extremes of experience. Jeremy Round called Patience Gray the high priestess of cooking , whose book pushes the form of the cookery book as far as it can go. Angela Carter remarked that it was less a cookery book that a summing-up of the genre of the late-modern British cookery book. The work has attracted a cult following in the United States, where passages have been read out at great length on the radio; and it has been anthologized by Paul Levy in The Penguin Book of Food and Drink. It was given a special award by the André Simon Book Prize committee in 1987. The author, Patience Gray, for 20 years shared her life with a sculptor, whose appetite for marble and sedimentary rocks took them to Tuscany, Catalonia, Naxos and Apulia. She wrote a passionate autobiographical cookbook, Mediterranean through and through and as compelling as a first class novel.