Published by Harper Perenial
Toast by Nigel Slater
This is an autobiographic tale by Nigel Slater, a culinary expert, chef and writer, in which he relates his formative years to memories of food and food related incidents. It is by turns very funny and also heartbreaking. Every chapter is headed by a food item and the book relates this precisely to a life experience, very cleverly done.
Lynne Truss said of this book that it connects emotions, memory and taste buds, how true. This book triggered many memories for me of my childhood, when we ate mivvi ice lollies and dough-balls with our mince, and then me as a young mother whose children called toast ‘scrapies’ as they thought all mothers scraped their morning toast into the sink. Every chapter begins with an item of food and explores how this affected family life. There is a hilarious section when he is boasting about having eaten a grilled half grapefruit as if this was on a par with having sex for the first time.
His mother apparently was a terrible cook and his father loved sweet things. There is an episode of a hostess trolley which is very funny. It was meant to give a sophisticated impression, but as it has to be lifted up and down stairs to the dining room it somewhat defeated the original purpose. There are also some difficult memories when looking at the relationships within the family, and the physical abuse is heartbreaking at times. Nobody can say that memories are not smell and taste related after reading this book. The writing is simple and brilliant and reminded me that if someone cooks for us with love, that is what makes even the worst cooked food taste better. I would highly recommend this book and wish it was longer.