Friday, September 14, 2012

Kitchen Diaries, by Nigel Slater

Subtitled A Year in the Kitchen with Nigel Slater, Kitchen Diaries is a record of Slater's shopping, cooking, and eating over the course of a year. In the book's introduction, he says "Learning to eat with the ebb and flow of the seasons is the single thing that has made my eating more enjoyable." Thus, his shopping focuses on farmers' markets and specialty stores that carry seasonal foods. Along with providing complete recipes for some dishes and rather vague directions for preparing others, Slater ruminates on whatever season is at hand, as well as the way he thinks about food, eating, and feeding others.

I had wanted to check out this book since it was published in 2006--I just found the premise intriguing--but it was rather expensive and I couldn't find it in the library. I finally bought a used copy last fall and began reading at September, reading each month's chapter during that month. Some months I was charmed by Slater, other months he got on my last nerve, whether because of his writing or my own mood, I don't know. I didn't have a lot of luck with the recipes I tried--the dishes that were more like suggestions actually turned out better for me. I'm glad I didn't pay full price for the book--but I'm glad I got it.

Favorite passages:
Some nights it just has to be pasta. Not out of sloth, but because tender yet substantial ribbons of starch will hit the spot like nothing else. This is one of those nights. A fine autumn day has turned to a chill evening, where the dry leaves are being blown against the windows, whirling and crackling in sudden gusts.

Few sights lift the spirits like a crate of lemons with their glossy leaves intact. They keep well, so I buy them by the dozen. I snap their stems and sniff the cut ends as I pile them into a bowl. They carry with them the faintest ghost of their white blossom. Lemons are as much a part of this kitchen as pepper and salt, but right now their spring-like freshness is more welcome than ever.

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