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A gorgeous book
on 18 September 2012
This is such a gorgeous book in so many ways.
First of all, it's a lovely object to own. It's a great thick book, with an expensive-looking binding and beautiful end-papers. The spine is cloth-bound; the front cover displays that distinctive, beautiful handwriting, and some ready-made stains - very considerate. The paper is good quality, and reasonably wipeable; I know - mine has already had raspberry juice spilt on it. The margins are generous, leaving enough space for one to scribble notes. The photographs are colourful and adequate; not oil-sprayed cookery-porn, but what you can expect your own dishes to look like. There is a luxurious French-mustard-yellow satin book mark, and the criticism of the paper-back "Kitchen Diaries I", that it won't lie flat on the counter, no longer applies.
Then, it's such a good read, even if you don't intend to cook. If you enjoy diaries, this is a good one. I like reading where Nigel Slater goes to buy cheese, what he's got growing in his vegetable patch and what he gets in for Christmas. I like to know what he cooks when he's feeling depressed, and that sometimes his fridge has too much slightly manky stuff in it, and that sometimes he doesn't feel like cooking at all. There is something very pleasant about reading in September about what he is making in February, (and of course there's also something very pleasant in reading about what he is cooking on the date when I'm reading). I find it comforting to know that he isn't always a domestic god. Speaking of which, he doesn't foist a persona on us as so many cookery writers do . . . ("God, I'm so sensuous," . . . "Golly, I'm so sensible"). He seems to be something of a mixed bag, like the rest of us, and he doesn't seem to think it's important. Read "Toast" if you want to know more about him.
And, of course, he is so good on food. I feel that he is an eating writer rather than a cookery writer. He respects, understands and loves food, and he shares and conveys those feelings so generously. He shows you how if you combine X (which is delicious) with Y (which is also delicious) you will get something which is more than twice as delicious, especially if you cook it by method Z (which makes almost everything delicious). His recipes are open-ended; he frequently suggests variations you could try, and he leaves it to his readers to think up their own adaptations - so he is teaching us to become good cooks in our own right. What more can you ask?