Elizabeth Romer was born and brought up in Wales. and memories of the beautiful Welsh countryside and its delicious traditional food still fascinate her – indeed she continues to add to a memoir about the food and culture of her childhood. Art and English literature were her main interests at school. Art won out and she graduated from Leicester College of Art and then went on to the Royal College of Art and received a des.RCA. It was on her very first visit to Italy as a student that she fell in love with the sublime beauty of the country’s art, architecture and landscape, not to mention the superb cuisine!
In 1966, newly married, Elizabeth and John Romer left London for Egypt where they spent many years working with various archaeological and epigraphic expeditions in the tombs and temples at Luxor, including directing an expedition and excavating the tomb of Ramesses XI in the Valley of the Kings. Then too, local food was of great interest as Elizabeth was in charge of running the expedition house and learnt much about Upper Egyptian village fare from her cook. Elizabeth has also long been occupied in assisting John with the making of international TV history series, most of which have featured Egypt and its monuments.
In 1972, Elizabeth and John acquired a farmhouse in Tuscany, near Arezzo, where she was inspired to write her first book, The Tuscan Year (1984), describing the daily lives and cuisine of her farmer neighbours. Elizabeth has illustrated all her own books about food and many of her husband’s works on ancient Egypt. Her book Italian Pizza and Hearth Breads was published in 1987 and in the same year was awarded an IACP/Seagram Award for Single Subject Books.
Elizabeth is presently finishing a book about the beautiful, secretive city of Arezzo where for many years she and John have resided in the centro storico. It describes the life and food of this ancient city where traditional dishes made with fresh, local ingredients prepared in a simple manner are considered essential to a good life. As one of Arezzo’s most famous citizens Pietro Aretino (1492-1556) poet, playwright, author of sensual works and great admirer of genuine foodstuffs wrote in 1548:
Death is the cook of elaborate food, life is the cook of that which is simple.
- The Tuscan Year: Life and Food in an Italian Valley, illustrated by the author, Weidenfeld & Nicolson (UK) 1984, Orion Paperback (UK) 1998: Atheneum (US) 1985, North Point Press (US) 1989.
- Italian Pizza & Savoury/Hearth Breads, illustrated by the author, 1987, Michael O’Mara (UK) 1987 Grafton Books (UK) 1990; Clarkson Potter (US) 1990.
- The Rape of Tutankhamun (with John Romer), Michael O’Mara (UK) 1993, Henry Holt (US) 1993.
- The Seven Wonders of the World, (with John Romer) photographs by the authors, Michael O’Mara (UK) 1994, Henry Holt (US) 1994.
- Great Excavations: John Romer’s History of Archaeology (with John Romer), photographs by the authors, Cassel (UK) 2000, Facts on File (US) 2000