Monday, August 28, 2006
Review: The Kitchen Diaries by Nigel Slater
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.
Labels: Nigel Slater