Book review Nigel Slater’s The Kitchen Diaries II

The Kitchen Diaries II coverI sometimes think of Nigel Slater as the favourite uncle I never had, and in a curious way this book is like a series of postcards from an affable relative, keen to ensure you’re eating well and taking good care of yourself.

It’s a beautiful, hefty tome, with a textured cover, elegantly patterned endpapers, a fat silky ribbon to mark your place, and page after page of sumptuous sounding recipes to pore over in a favourite squashy armchair rather than risk on a kitchen shelf.

Recipes are laid out by date (hence the kitchen diaries of the title) so you can look at a calendar then turn to see what Uncle Nige is recommending for that day, each flavour discussed with powerfully evocative descriptions. For April 15th, for example, the chapter’s heading is ‘A fistful of garlic leaves’, and begins with a dreamy paragraph on the scent of wild garlic encountered while walking in the countryside. “Each leaf crushed underfoot will send up an instantly recognisable puff of the sweet, fresh young herb.”

In other sections he extols the pleasures of texture, in particular ‘Le crunch’, “Something that crackles on the tongue or snaps in between the teeth rather than slithers down in silence.” Yes, this chef is undoubtedly at least part poet.

The recipes themselves are generally utterly wholesome, although they often use daunting quantities of butter – suggesting that long country strolls are their essential partner.

Sharing anecdotes and his own meandering impressions of each key ingredient, Nigel has created a book that’s about so much more than just food, yet will definitely have you salivating. Thankfully, once your appetite is well and truly whetted, you can turn to the recipes and get started. For starters I recommend giving the bonus recipe, the Pistachio and Lemon cookies, a go – sweet, simple and perfect writing fuel.

The Kitchen Diaries II by Nigel Slater is available to buy from Amazon.