Sunday, 26 February 2012

Book Review: Toast - Nigel Slater

Synopsis - Toast is Nigel Slater's story of a childhood remembered through food.  Whether relating to his mother's ritual burning of the toast, his father's dreaded Boxing Day stew or such culinary highlights of the day as Arctic Roll and Grilled Grapefruit (then considered something of a status symbol in Wolverhampton), this remarkable memoir vividly recreates daily life in sixties suburban England.

Nigel's likes and dislikes, aversions and sweet-toothed weaknesses form a fascinating backdrop to this incredibly moving and deliciously evocative portrait of childhood, adolescence and sexual awakening.

Review - This is a wonderful biographical account of Nigel Slater's childhood.  Mollycoddled by his mother and never able to please his father for whom the boy never seemed good enough or comparable with his older brothers.  His love for his mother whose cooking abilities left a lot to be desired that a housekeeper was employed to provide some sustenance as well as other housekeeping tasks.  Nigel's only friend at home is the young gardener who is unfairly sacked due to an inadvertent comment on Nigel's part.  Once Nigel's mother has passed away his childhood takes on a change that is for the worse.  His father falls for a woman interested only in his money and bettering herself.  Neither have time for the boy who feels he is constantly in the way.  The new wife, an exceptional cook and housekeeper competes with Nigel when he starts to bring home his delicacies from cookery class and she suddenly provides three course meals on a daily basis which do nothing for the health of her husband.  In spite of the upheaval in his childhood, Nigel goes on to follow his lifelong passion and on leaving school he enters catering college and works in hotels to keep himself.  A painful account of a journey through childhood. 3*

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