Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Review: Eat: The Little Book of Fast Food by Nigel Slater

First of all, I'm a huge fan of Nigel Slater, so I was prepared to love his newest book, even before it arrived.  When I did get my hands on it, I kind of squealed.  You can't tell from this picture, but the lower half of the cover is actually a removable jacket, and the book itself has this gorgeous semi-flexible yellow rough fabric cover.  It's also an unusual size, thick but little.  As the subtitle suggests, this book returns to territory Slater has dealt with before, namely quick dishes, but it is a much more sophisticated and beautifully designed book than his earlier Real Fast Food.  Like most of his books, Eat doesn't have traditional recipes with an ingredient list at the top with precise amounts, and then a dry list of instructions.  Instead, the ingredients are in a list at the top, but without amounts (those are provided in the text of the recipe), most likely because Slater generally doesn't write recipes that rely on precision.  Even better, the text of his recipes are beautifully written, simple, and read almost like delicious poetry.  You can really read his recipes.  For example, a recipe for "Spiced Mushrooms on Naan" ends, "The nourishment of warm bread.  The heat of spice."  I especially love the way in which he organized this book.  No "appetizers, main courses, salads, and soups," but rather, "In the hand," "Little stews," "Under a crust," and "In the frying pan."  Each section starts with beautiful and mouthwatering little essays.  Another thing I love about the book is the way in which little recipe-lettes are sprinkled throughout.  You find delicious, ingenious throw-away ideas in these chapter-starting essays, as well as next to some of the more straight-forward essays, in the form of "A few variations."  Slater can't help himself.  He's just brimming with brilliant ideas, and his book provides a very strong sense of his generosity with those ideas.  The one thing I quibble I have with this beautiful book is the heavy emphasis on non-vegetarian food.  There are vegetarian recipes, but the great majority of the recipes and mini-recipes have meat in them.  This isn't a criticism, of course, because this is purely an issue of personal taste.  Frankly, it's a testament to how great this book is, since I just want to be able to use more of his ideas!

(I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for an honest review.)

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