Monday, August 28, 2006


Review: The Kitchen Diaries by Nigel Slater

I write this review almost two months before Nigel Slater's The Kitchen Diaries is released in the United States in an effort to create any possible buzz, for this cookery book is not to be missed. It is a one year reflection of seasonal produce and how it can be augmented with Slater's no-fuss approach to tasty, good food.

In an orderly fashion, Slater details a year in his kitchen month to month, starting from January (my favourite month of the year because it is usually the coldest - well, in the Northern hemisphere anyway). His new year's resolution is to buy organic food and to patronize artisanal food producers, so we know right from the outset that this is not going to cover any silly "semi-homemade" meals. This is also a clear message to the reader that supermarket substitutions may apply, especially if one is unable to go to a certified farmers' market. The seasonal produce is enhanced with fresh fish and meat, rice, pasta, herbs, and seasonings. Though Slater does not detail everything he eats every day, there is no shortage of revamped classic British (e.g. dishes with red mullet, lemon trifle, ham and butter beans - delightfully autumnal) and international (Thai fishcakes, chicken tarragon, Indian-style roast quail) meals.

Written in a diary-entry format, Slater chatters effusively about the weather, what is in his garden, and the ups and downs of dinners for, one, two, or more, amongst many food-related digressions. His descriptions are mouth-watering, as are the many accompanying photographs taken in "real time" (that is to say, immediately after the actual time of cooking).

In this great cookery book Slater imparts a lot of insight, insofar as ripeness of produce and basic food preparation. The variety of main courses and desserts ensure that the reader is never under-stimulated. Though the actual ripening dates will be different depending on where on lives, Slater is full of advice on how to make the most of the natural flavours in fresh produce.

My favourite entries are those in January, during which Slater sells the reader on the joys of cold-weather cooking - dal and pumpkin soup, a good British stew, double ginger cake, pot-roast pheasant, and sausages with salami and lentils.

Nigel Slater's The Kitchen Diaries inspires me to have an exciting year - any year - in the kitchen. It is a "must have" for every foodie.


A great book - not just for recipes, but for bed-time reading:)
Pille - Nigel Slater's "The Kitchen Diaries" is one of my favorite cookery books with which to curl up in bed. Another one is Diana Henry's "Roast Figs, Sugar Snow". The review is not so good, more propaganda in its intent. I should have shown what I'd cooked from it first, but I was just starting out my blog then and wasn't quite sure what to do...Oh well, we all learn. I think I have found my voice now, and with it I should do proper cookery book reviews as it is not such a great leap from doing literature reviews for an honors' dissertation or a master's thesis.
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