Relaxing after the labours of the Oxford Companion to Food, the late Alan Davidson and his trusty lieutenant of the last years of its compilation, Helen Saberi, turned their spotlight on trifle. Nothing is more emblematic of English cookery. Trifles have been a perennial of English summer lunches, tennis parties, and schoolboy dreams of plenty. The authors trace their origins to the earliest recipe of 1596 and its gradual transformation from a mere cooked cream to the many-layered custardy extravagance we know today. The stages on its journey, described with the lightest of touch, are illustrated by recipes extracted from classic English cookery books. With their customary brilliance they have universalised the English experience, casting far and wide for examples, returning home with trifles from Laos, America, Australasia, Mexico, Eritrea, South Africa, Afghanistan, Malta, and even Norway, where Veiled Maidens are all the rage at teatime. The resulting recipes, handy tips and historical speculation amount to a ladleful of wit and amusement.