Eight or nine years ago I remember being asked if there was any natural successor to Elizabeth David or Jane Grigson emerging on the food scene. I replied without hesitation that I thought young Nigel Slater was certainly someone to watch, I no longer have any doubts, I am his biggest fan.
His new book ‘Appetite’ has me licking my lips all over again – he writes about food in the most irresistible way. Even if you never cook, never want to cook, don’t even want to be persuaded to cook, you should buy this book and keep it in the loo. Sneak a look at it every now and then, read a page or two and I guarantee you, you’ll never be the same again.
In this radical new book, Nigel Slater argues that we should not be slavishly following recipes, but following our instincts. ‘Appetite’ shows us how to break the rules, experiment with recipes and satisfy our appetite.
Slater gives us brilliant templates for a large range of classic dishes from a simple supper of chicken, wine and herbs, a big fish pie for friends, to a curry to make you sweat. With his unique blend of simplicity, wit and relish, he casts aside the insecurities of normal recipes. There are hundreds of ideas and suggestions for how you might adapt each dish to produce something quite different. Each recipe becomes a key to discovering a multitude of meals. Readers are liberated to use their own judgement and often encouraged to skip half the ingredients; at the end of each recipe are suggestions for changing or taking it further. A cheap spaghetti meal has eight variations, and soon you will start to discover combinations that are all your own.
Slater rejects the tendency to make our daily cooking too complicated, believing there is more pleasure to be had in good ingredients uncontrived. The first half of the book goes back to first principles and explores, among much else, shopping ingredient by ingredient and month by month, the basic kitchen kit, how to cut down the work and what goes with what.
Jonathan Lovekin’s photos are exquisite and don’t forget to read the chapter about the art of washing up.
‘Appetite’ by Nigel Slater, published by Fourth Estate, London, priced at £30 in Ireland and worth every penny.