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Real Food. Nigel Slater
on 9 August 2010
There is something about Nigel Slater's writing that has a drool quality about it: it is simple yet decadent, naughty but nice.
In this offering, he centres his writings around a collection of key ingredients namely potatoes, chicken, sausages, garlic, bread, cheese, ice-cream and chocolate.
Clever man. He has hit our comfort hot spots with these fabulous foods and given us a range of dishes to showcase them at their best.
However, it is not all about the recipes when reading a Nigel Slater book. We are well used to the phrase "food writing" these days, and Nigel Slater has been a keen player of this genre for well over a decade. He provides a backdrop to each recipe with some thoughts, hints and ideas on the context of the food in question. He doesn't jump from one dish to the next without some form of linking of the text. It makes for a good read as well as a cookery aide. Double value for money in my opinion.
Yes, you do get the "how to" for Toad (in the hole), but you also get a mood feel for the food about to be served and its appropriateness for the time and place. You are left under no delusions that this is a simple supper dish and not posh nosh for dinner parties. It is never written, but always implied.
He does have the odd burst of directness, when extolling the delights of the Chip Butty for example.
He strongly recommends a certain state of inebriation melded with additional ice cold beer in order that this British institution may be enjoyed in a superlative manner.
Like many of his contemporaries, he is champions the heavyweights of each food he features. Quality and provenance are the paths to excellence in the recipes he provides. Don't expect the Roast Chicken with Basil and Lemon to have the same punch if you buy an insipid Two For A Fiver bird from the local supermarket. He claims you will get more for your money in terms of taste and flavour if you spend more.
Interesting words as they were penned almost twelve years ago. The more recent campaigners for free range, locally sourced foodstuffs must have drawn some of their inspiration from him?
Either way, it is a comfort to see that a book with this vintage can guide us through the morass of ethical buying choices that we are faced with on a daily basis.
It is impossible to cite the best recipes, as they are all wonderful in their individual way, but if pressed I would go for Potato Pizza, Thai Spiced Chicken Wings, Toad, Parmesan Garlic Bread, Steak Sandwich, Camembert Baked in a Box, Hot Ice Cream Pudding and Chocolate Toblerone Sauce. Try these and become a Nigel Slater aficionado. Preferably not all in one sitting!
His writings are a subtle as his flavourings.
He offers simple and straightforward advice, without any pretension.
He affirms your choice of meal, by making you feel good about what you are doing.
Preparing food, good food to share with others.
It can't get any better than that