Read for the Foodie's Reading Challenge.
I’m familiar with exactly one of Nigel Slater’s cookbooks (Real Fast Food – worth checking out), and not being British, don’t have easy access to much of his non-book work. So I’m not exactly sure why I was interested in reading the story of his life – a feeling echoed by the author in the forward to the American edition to the book. He notes that he wasn’t sure about sending this over the pond, since there are so many particularly British foods mentioned within. But he was heartened by the fact that younger Brits, who also wouldn’t necessarily have lived in the same food universe that he did growing up in the 60s, were able to identify with the book.
This is an incredibly sweet story of growing up, losing his mother, gaining a step-mother and finally leaving home, framed in short little vignettes about various foods. I’ve never read anything like it, but the more I think about it, the more I love it as a framing devise. I don’t think there’s a single person alive that doesn’t have at least one particularly memorable meal that they can still vividly picture and taste as if they were still there, or certain foods from childhood that the mere sight of will instantly transport them back to another time.
This is certainly a story of one man’s journey through childhood, but it’s amazing how evocative it is, and how much time you’ll spend with your mind suddenly drifting off to something similar you experienced when you were young. It’s definitely worth a read, even if you don’t know half of the foods he’s talking about.