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appetite: so what do you want to eat today?

by nigel slater

Appetite: So What Do You Want to Eat Today? What is there to say about a new Nigel Slater book? Especially one called Appetite. It is exactly what it should be. This is the book he has been heading for all along. It is about food, to be sure, but it is also a statement of his personal philosophy, which seems to amount to this: that our appetites are founded in pleasure; and that we must interrogate those pleasures, and take them very seriously indeed, if we are to eat as well as we can. To eat well means to eat, and cook, pleasurably. So in Appetite Slater takes food, and cooking, back to where he believes it belongs, back to the realm of sensuous pleasure and comfort. Back to the sheer bliss, as he might say, of putting something warm, soft and sticky in your mouth.

Very cleverly, he has built his book not around detailed recipes as such--that would be too specific for his purposes--but around the sort of thing that might pop into your head as something you would really like to eat. No one says "I fancy Shallow Fried Herring Milt with Sherry Vinegar, Parsley and Butter Sauce tonight"; but they might well think of a Creamy, Calming Pasta Dish, or a Big Fish Pie, or Bangers and Mash. They might like to know, too, some of the endless variations they can play on these platonic essences. These are the kinds of food this generous and handsome book celebrates; foods that have a genuine part to play in people's lives. This is quintessential Nigel Slater, laid-back, not claiming any special privilege as a chef ("If I can do it, so can you" he remarks); and all wrapped up in that wonderful, lived-in, squashy prose that hits the spot every time. A feast of a book, from a man with no tricks or gimmicks, who is happily in touch with his own appetites and wants to put us in touch with ours.--Robin Davidson

posted 28 Feb 2006 at 19:41:05

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