Food, food culture, food as culture and the cultures that grow our food

In Memoriam
Anna de Casparis

July 20, 2006

Anna at the river


15th August 1947 - 18th July 2006

Anna died on Tuesday evening. Her extraordinary, indomitable spirit was evident to the end. We will miss her as a comrade, mother, sister and friend, as someone who lived life with relish and brought great beauty and delicious tarte oignon into so many of our lives.

Okay, the tarte oignon was great, but her tortilla, the Spanish kind of tortilla, were really extraordinary. I guess you can’t put every dang yummy morsel into in an obituary, but while we’re remembering the culinary Anna, I’d like to also remember her tortilla.

Anna was among other things, the translator of a book by farmer/activist José Bové, The World is Not For Sale, and it is oddly because of Anna that I re-encountered Bové in the summer of 2002. José Bové, as you may know, is the roquefort farmer/producer who, in an eloquent expression of Yanqee, Git yer Ass off my Acre, dismantled a McDonalds’ building site in his home town of Millau. With his colleagues he then paraded the debris through the town as trophée, the bits of the McDo held high in whatever tractors use for arms, crowds lining the streets cheering praise.

Bové was sentenced to three months at the prison in Montpellier, which is close to where I was staying with dear familial friends, and where Anna lived upstairs. A lot of extraordinary Anna-centric things happened in just a few short days that summer, including a near-death experience involving dear Anna.

Because near-death experiences tend to involve a lot of waiting around worrying for the living, we decided to distract ourselves I mean do something constructive, by attending an event that Anna would have attended, had she not been half a nanometer from death’s door. This event was an enormous demonstration on the hills above Montpellier, on the occasion of Bové’s release from prison.

Life is one big fashion show, so the night before the ‘demo’, we spent quite some hours preparing a rather large banner painted with the words,

a bi-lingual joke in honour of Anna, that sadly, only we could appreciate. And by ‘we’ I mean ‘I’. When we arrived at the demonstration, it seemed that tout le monde was there to celebrate Bové’s release and get in a little anti-globalisation protesting as well. This wasn’t just a case of agitated young longhairs, marching around shouting in ill-fitting black clothing. All sorts of civilised and semi-civilised locals and middle-aged goat-knitters gathered to show their support for Bové. (I count myself amongst the group semi-civilised, middle-aged goat knitters btw.) Especially nice were the farmer-families who came carrying picnic baskets brimming with homemade and regional delicacies. For show, but not just for show. They really eat that stuff down here.

The demo was held on a hill covered with wild thyme and other scrubby plants, which we attendees trampled and pulverised in the walk to get to the protest/celebration. I shall always remember this day for the feeling of release it gave our little group, to not only worry about Anna cum sui, but to start living again. I shall also remember this as the most aromatic political demonstration I’ve ever attended.

Thank you Anna, Rock Fort!

The funeral will be held on Thursday 27 July. There will be a service at Phillip Goode Co-operative Chapel at 2pm, on Castle Street, Abergavenny, to be followed by a reception serving high tea at the Angel Hotel, Cross Street, Abergavenny at 4pm. All are welcome.

The chapel is located directly behind the Angel Hotel please see for road map of location or call 01873-853151.

Flowers can be sent to Phillip Goode, Castle Court funeral home, Castle Street, Abergavenny, NP75EE or you can make a donation to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

If you would like to say goodbye to Anna individually the Chapel will be open for visits from Tuesday 25th of July, 9am-5pm until 10.30am on the morning of the funeral. Please call for an appointment on the number above.


‘Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.’

- Marcel Proust

debra at 18:40 | | post to


  1. Hi,
    I read some stuff in the Guardian by Lena and googled for Anna and only yesterday found she’d died. I was a contemporary of hers at Reading, and We re-met in Crouch End in the 80s, my daughter’s the same age as Lena and we’d often see each other at Hornsey pool.
    She was a good pal to me in the 60s, she had a great heart, even during the short time she was a Maoist.
    So long, Anna you were a star.

    Comment by dave heasman — October 7, 2007 @ 2:24

  2. can you tell me what was the job of anna de casparis? was she a translator?

    Comment by daniela — April 14, 2008 @ 1:34

  3. Yes, she was.

    Comment by debra — April 14, 2008 @ 7:32

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