My first written language was French, and like children in écôles everywhere, I learned at the age of five to do joined-up writing, as the Brits would say, or cursive as the Americans call it. When I started second grade in the US, my teacher couldn’t cope with this aberration (the rest of the pupils would not learn this skill until third grade); she insisted that I print. I blame my miserable handwriting on all this chopping and changing!
The French publish entire books in joined-up writing — for adults as well as children. The French editions of the Babar series use joined-up writing; the US editions are printed in an innocuous serif typeface. My first cookbook, La cuisine et un jeu d’enfants, (Cooking is Child’s Play), used this same script typeface as does my favorite summer cookbook, Recettes en Provence by Andrée Maureau. I find this old-fashioned, friendly script creates an accessible and friendly text — easy for a child to read, easy for a cook to access. The whimsical drawings add to the charm.
Here is my translation of the recipe:
“Ratatouille is one of the most famous dishes. Each house has its recipe, and each recipe its own particular taste.
It’s up to you to add others.
It is tradition that you start cooking all the vegetables separately the night before. Frankly, that’s the secret of a great tasting dish.
Courgettes/zucchini: 1 kg
Aubergines/eggplants: 1.5 kg
Tomatoes: 1.5 kg
Red peppers: 1 kg
Onions: 500 g
Garlic: 3 cloves
Salt, pepper, thyme, bay leaves, olive oil
Cook all the vegetables separately for 30 minutes in olive oil. [The recipe calls for them to be peeled first, but I don’t do this step.] Peel, seed and press the tomatoes.
Add all the cooked vegetables together in a pan. There’s no need to add additional olive oil. Add the garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook for another 30 minutes.
Delicious hot or cold.”
[This really does take more than an hour to cook. Each vegetable takes 20 minutes or so… It’s another great idea to involve all the would be consumers in the preparation, as with soupe au pistou.]
Back to typefaces and fonts. The BBC recently ran an interesting story about typefaces here. In choosing a serif typeface, I often choose one that has nonaligned numbers, like these — 123456789.