80 Following

Allusion is not Illusion

You'll pry my books off my cold, dead body. By the time you shift them all I'll be flat and dessicated.

Currently reading

Winter's Tales
Karen Blixen, Isak Dinesen
Black Lamb and Grey Falcon (Penguin Classics)
Rebecca West, Christopher Hitchens
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
Susanna Clarke
Already Dead
Charlie Huston
The Rings of Saturn
W.G. Sebald, Michael Hulse
Lady Audley's Secret
Mary Elizabeth Braddon, David Skilton
Unequal Protection: How Corporations Became "People" - And How You Can Fight Back
Thom Hartmann
The City, Not Long After
Pat Murphy
You Can Sketch: A Step-by-Step Guide for Absolute Beginners
Jackie Simmonds
Lonely Werewolf Girl
Martin Millar
The Kitchen Diaries: A Year in the Kitchen with Nigel Slater - Nigel Slater, Jonathan Lovekin
The title does not lie: this really is a culinary diary and not a cookbook. There is an entry for every day of the year: always food-related but sometimes merely about shopping for food, or what's growing in his garden, or what he bought and ate. Only occasionally are actual recipes spelled out in a way that can be reproduced. More often, a dish is described sufficiently that a reasonably experienced cook could figure out how to make something similar -- if she could find the ingredients.

Fresh, seasonal, high-quality ingredients are key to Slater's culinary philosophy, and if you don't live in England and have plenty of disposable income many of the components probably won't be available, or if you do find them they'll be imported and not fresh. For instance, I've never come across partridge even in the swank import grocer here. However, he does eat mackerel a LOT, so if you're looking for new mackerel ideas I recommend this book.

It was hard not to feel a bit envious of Slater: he seems to have nothing to do but wander about the garden, shop in fancy food stores, and cook. Once he mentions a meeting (at his home) and seems to find it quite tiring. I guess he made a lot writing those food columns! Or perhaps he's retired now; as an American I forget that in some other countries people can still retire without penury.

Or possibly there's all sorts of things going on, work and parties and whatnot, that Slater just doesn't mention. This diary is not intimate in the way the author's earlier [b:Toast|71969|Toast|Nigel Slater|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1328000595s/71969.jpg|2451740], unless you consider admitting lack of self-restraint in eating fresh fruit to be a highly personal confession.

Lastly, a note about the photography. It is again by Jonathan Lovekin, whose work I mentioned liking very much in my review of [b:Plenty|8086216|Plenty|Yotam Ottolenghi|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1327921381s/8086216.jpg|12820406]. I didn't love it quite as much here, but I don't think that's Lovekin's fault. One, the paper quality was softer and the images didn't come out as sharply. Two, Slater's food is not as colorful as Ottolenghi's. I was impressed at how Lovekin suited his style to the simpler and homier kitchen-garden feel of this book -- many excellent photographers (or writers or artists) and not so flexible.

(Pork belly with cannellini beans)