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How to Eat: The Pleasures and Principles of Good Food (1998)

af Nigella Lawson

Andre forfattere: Richard Caldicott (Fotograf)

Andre forfattere: Se andre forfattere sektionen.

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
1,424169,664 (4.03)10
'At its heart, a deeply practical yet joyously readable book...you are all set to head off to the kitchen and have a truly glorious time' Nigel Slater, Guardian Revisit and discover the sensational first cookbook from Nigella Lawson. When Nigella Lawson's first book, How to Eat, was published in 1998, two things were immediately clear: that this fresh and fiercely intelligent voice would revolutionise cookery writing, and that How to Eat was an instant classic of the genre. Here was a versatile culinary bible, through which a generation discovered how to feel at home in the kitchen and found the confidence to experiment and adapt recipes to their own needs. This was the book to reach for when hastily organising a last-minute supper with friends, when planning a luxurious weekend lunch or contemplating a store-cupboard meal for one, or when trying to tempt a fussy toddler. This was a book about home cooking for busy lives. The chief revelation was the writing. Rather than a set of intimidating instructions, Nigella's recipes provide inspiration. She has a gift for finding the right words to spark the reader's imagination, evoking the taste of the ingredients, the simple, sensual pleasures of the practical process, the deep reward of the finished dish. Passionate, trenchant, convivial and wise, Nigella's prose demands to be savoured, and ensures that the joy and value of How to Eat will endure for decades to come. 'How to eat, how to cook, how to write: I want two copies of this book, one to reference in the kitchen and one to read in bed' Yotam Ottolenghi WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY JEANETTE WINTERSON… (mere)
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Viser 1-5 af 16 (næste | vis alle)
Great cookbook. Simple food, well-written recipes. No photographs, as this was written before Ms Lawson became a television celebrity, and all the better for it. ( )
1 stem KimMR | Apr 2, 2013 |
Lekker leesboek en lekker kookboek. Veel ideeën voor allerlei gerechten en alternatieven. Aanrader
  mariesor | Oct 26, 2012 |
This book must be amazing if you're english, or even american, because it teaches you to cook the basics of traditional english cuisine.
Since I'm portuguese, and our food is a bit different, I didn't find it very useful. It didn't bring many new ideas, though it has loads of italian and french recipes, which are more alike what I usually cook.
Sometimes it has too many details and ingredients I can't buy anywhere.
I thought this book was about eating good food, but almost everything in it is fried in butter (or any kind of grease). And then she tells you to throw the oil down the sink.

It's a let down, her TV shows are far better! ( )
  Eilantha_Le_Fay | Sep 4, 2011 |
Nigella's first book. I can only give it three stars because although the content is worth reading, the typography is illegible and that makes it difficult. I don't cook out of this book very often. ( )
  calcakestall | Mar 11, 2010 |
Gorgeous book, and the writing is mesmerising - I often just read How to Eat for the pleasure of the 'sound' of Nigella's voice in the writing. A basic Roast Chicken (and later the BEST version of roast chicken in Tagliatelle with Chicken from the Venetian Ghetto), The World's Best Chocolate Ice Cream really is. There are lots of simple recipes for feeding children, and heaps of budget ideas (my Marsala costs just a couple of dollars) along with the more fancy menu options. Stews, soups, lunches, dinners, sweets, it's all delicious and there are SO many recipes! I've cooked from How to Eat more times than I can count, yet, I think after all these years, I have only scratched the surface. I love that I am still discovering new dishes. ( )
1 stem Coby | Sep 13, 2009 |
Viser 1-5 af 16 (næste | vis alle)
A still-warm yorkshire pudding is placed in a bowl. It’s darker than I might like, but then my oven sometimes runs hotter than intended. I refuse to be judged for it. On top goes a dollop of thick, fridge-cold cream, bright white against the burnished brown. I lift the spoon from the tin to my side and hold it over the bowl to allow a slow, shimmering stream of golden syrup to join its pals. I pass each serving around the table to my family. There’s a gentle chorus of sighs as they go in and, from my wife, a breathless “Oh God”. Thank you, Nigella. You’ve gifted me my family’s admiration. I can ask for no more.

It is hard to describe this dessert as a recipe, although, of course, the yorkshire pudding demands one. It’s more of an idea and a bloody good one at that: normally you eat yorkshire puddings that way but you could, you know, try it this way. That gets to the heart of How To Eat, by Nigella Lawson. It was first published in 1998 and announced less a cookery writer than a beguiling sensibility. It does, of course, contain many recipes. A lot of them are original to Nigella – excuse the first name familiarity; to do otherwise would be like referring to Madonna as Ms Ciccone – but many come from other people, because she thinks they’re great. It’s a cookbook with a bibliography. Here are nods to Arabella Boxer and Darina Allen, to Jane Grigson, Marcella Hazan and Alastair Little.

How To Eat is both serious indulgence and joyous high camp. It contains not just dishes but whole meal plans: they include a “sweetly nostalgic lunch” (roast pork, roast potatoes, red cabbage) and a “gratifyingly kitsch lunch” (Coca-Cola braised ham and cherry pie); there’s an “extravagant but still elegant dinner” (oysters with hot sausages, chocolate raspberry pudding cake) and an “elegantly substantial traditional English lunch” (roast chicken and trifle). Then there are the essays and opinions, robustly held. When cooking and eating, you must “let your real likes and desires guide you”; brown bread is like “hessian”; freezers, if not used properly, can become “a culinary graveyard, a place where good food goes to die”. She does not disapprove of stock cubes. She loves the novels of Henry James. Béchamel is “unquestionably the most useful sauce”.

Nigella credits the idea for the book to her late husband, the journalist and broadcaster John Diamond. “I used to say things like: why are they putting grapes on that pavlova?” she recalls now. “John said, ‘You’re so confident about your opinions around food, you should write a book called How To Eat.’” She was not convinced. Over lunch with her literary agent she recalls talking about a grand novel she thought she might write. Only at the end did she mention the food book. “He told me to go home, not even take my coat off, write a proposal and fax it to him. That dates it.”

The book was signed to Chatto & Windus, a literary imprint known more for publishing the fiction of novelists such as Toni Morrison and Margaret Atwood, although it did occasionally publish cookbooks. As Gail Rebuck, head of parent company Random House (now Penguin Random House) says, “Nigella came to writing this book from a literary background.” Indeed, she did. While she had spent 12 years as restaurant critic for the Spectator, she had also been deputy literary editor of the Sunday Times, and written a general column for this newspaper. “Having her published by Chatto was a declaration of intent,” Rebuck says. Jonathan Burnham, who bought the book for Chatto (and lived with Nigella at university), agrees. “It was a little different,” he says. “The quality of the writing and the reflectiveness of it meant it fitted in.”

The manuscript took a while to emerge. “First I fell pregnant and the smell of food made me sick,” Nigella says. “And then John got ill.” She wrote the lengthy text in a mere six weeks. “It would have been shorter if I’d had more time,” she says. The result was less a “how to” manual, than a “why not?” manual, full of exuberant essays about the joys of eating alone or why you shouldn’t be afraid of making your own mayonnaise. Gloriously, a fish pie rendered bright yellow courtesy of saffron is described as “Blakean” because it reminds her of a sunburst in a William Blake painting. “I want two copies,” Yotam Ottolenghi once said. “One to reference in the kitchen and one to read in bed.”

The launch party was an outrageous affair. It was held at the newly opened London hotel One Aldwych, and, as the diary columns attested, was crammed with the chattering classes, chattering at each other: here was Martin Amis and Alan Yentob, Robin Day and Salman Rushdie. “The paparazzi descended on that party,” Rebuck says. “And it was clear that it was the beginning of something.” If the prose wasn’t so encouraging, if the deep, limpid pools of common sense so reassuring, it could all have been seriously bloody annoying. Instead it has sold more than 700,000 copies.

I flick through the book, both thrilled and dizzied by the eating possibilities, in equal measure. I’ve cooked from it before but am always struck by how much is in there. I often do her ham braised in Coca-Cola, which makes complete sense, for what is a cola other than a spiced sugar syrup? “When I do a recipe,” Nigella says, “I’m trying to tell you how to get something that tastes nice. I’m not giving cookery lessons.” She points out that she is completely untrained. “I have the same worries as the reader.” I end up choosing randomly: a lightly boozy Thai clam hotpot full of the hefty waft of basil and ginger. We suck happily at the shells. Another night I make bouncy, crisp prawn fritters and, to go with them, a coriander mayo with a spritz of lime.

It was published the same year as Delia Smith’s How To Cook, and the distinction between the titles probably served them both well. In 2018, to mark its 20th anniversary, a new edition of How To Eat was published as a Vintage classic. Nigella’s acknowledgments note that, by the time of its first publication, John Diamond was, courtesy of the cancer from which he would die far too young, already too unwell to taste any of the food. What he perhaps didn’t know was that, with one brilliantly insightful idea, he had set his life partner off on a path to a glittering career. We are all better fed and less uptight for it.
tilføjet af kleh | RedigerThe Guardian, Jay Rayner (Mar 28, 2021)
 
What makes a cookbook a classic? Immediately we think of the recipes; all that delicious food, easy to cook, impressive to serve. A recipe, though, is only a list of ingredients and the method of combining them. Recipes are like plot summaries of Shakespeare’s plays; we know what’s supposed to happen but the real pleasure is in the writing.

And it is the same with a classic cookbook. What makes our mouths water when we read a cookbook isn’t the food on the table; it’s the story about the food on the table. Pleasure always starts in the mind – it makes no difference whether the pleasure is a day out, a wonderful meal, a visit from a friend, or sex. In fact food and sex go together so well because both are anticipatory. In the imagination nothing goes wrong.

Open Nigella, and even if you have never done more than cheese on toast, already, you’re listening to her voice. Nigella cookbooks are intimate – something like a diary. Confessionals of failures, flaws, greed, indulgence, accidents good and bad, the joy of doing it right. Of showing off for friends. Of sitting alone with a plate piled with lemon linguine.

And the cookbooks are voyages of discovery; of raw materials that become philosopher’s stones. Of fire, ancient and suggestive. Of breaking bread and gathering together, and of the pleasure of shopping for food like an explorer – fresh, loose, earthy, sensuous, not shrink-wrapped and pre-packed.

Food, like language, is a basic everyday necessity. We need to communicate. We need to eat. Writing about food uses one simple basic – language – to talk about another simple basic – food. And that’s where the magic starts. Just as in the fairytales, with their self-sweeping brooms and geese that lay golden eggs, the ordinary everyday stuff of life turns out to be the treasure under our noses.

Many perfectly good cookbooks offer up their recipes simply, briskly and clearly. No commentary and nothing personal. And that’s fine. We’ve all dashed to Google to check a method we half-remember or to compare recipes for bolognese. The classic cookbook is different. The classic cookbook is practical, for sure, but it’s more than a “how to”. Nigella calls her recipes, “a reminder of possibilities”. And that’s what a classic does – it doesn’t matter when it was written, it doesn’t matter how styles have changed. It doesn’t matter if the writer is dead or alive. Why not? Because the language is alive.

It doesn’t even matter whether or not you actually cook any of the food. If I cooked anything from The Alice B Toklas Cookbook I would soon be dead of sclerosis – every artery in my body crammed with cream. But I love to read her. When I read Nigella, I’m there for the story. What does she have to tell me about this dish?

She writes: “I first had salsa verde when I was a chambermaid in Florence.” Then I go on to discover that she ate it in a trattoria where most of the diners were transvestites – and I’m at the long table with her, and the burnished blond bombshells she describes, and we’re dipping our bread into – listen to this – the “deep flavoured spiky sauce the colour of snooker-baize”.

Nigella is funny. The writing rolls along and then there are the one-liners, a store cupboard of them. A pinch of Woody Allen: “Christmas is like the country; not much to do apart from eat and drink.” A dash of Oscar Wilde: “Being right isn’t everything.” A drop of Joyce Grenfell looking straight to camera and saying: “Remember that defrosted strawberries take on the texture of soft, cold slugs.” When she’s writing about feeding children I can’t decide whether she’s Mary Poppins, kind but firm – “It’s never too soon to get a child used to pink lamb and blue beef,” or whether she’s channelling Roald Dahl: “A pan so big that both the children could fit in it together – and have the lid put on too …”

When How to Eat was published 20 years ago, the title told us what to expect – that this was not only about the pleasure of cooking, but a reminder that cooking is not an end in itself; we cook because we like eating. The title put the book into the timeless category. Everyone needs to eat – but do we really know how? Eating, like love, like language, comes naturally, but also needs to be learned – and especially if we want to learn to do it well.

How to Eat promised, and delivered, far more than recipes; here was a practical philosophy – a way of getting more enjoyment for yourself and others. Food, for Nigella, becomes a way of talking about what is good and what is not, in the deepest sense of what nourishes us and what doesn’t. Why else would she call a recipe “Spring Lunch to Lift the Spirits?”
tilføjet af kleh | RedigerThe Guardian, Jeanette Winterson (Oct 6, 2018)
 
Strangely, it can take enormous confidence to trust your own palate, follow your own instincts.” When I first read these words in How to Eat by Nigella Lawson 20 years ago, it felt like angel trumpets going off in my head. I was in my mid-20s, pregnant and surfacing from nearly a decade of dieting and disordered eating. This idea that I could trust myself to decide what to eat appeared both strange and liberating. Since I was a child, I had been an obsessive reader of cookbooks but had never encountered a voice like Nigella’s before. Unlike Raymond Blanc or Richard Olney (author of The French Menu Cookbook), she wasn’t making me feel I ought to pay homage to authentic French food traditions. Nor was she implying – as plenty of earlier recipe writers had done – that it was my duty as a woman to master a certain number of dishes, and serve them on a certain kind of crockery. “Never worry about what your guests will think of you,” she wrote, reassuringly. All she asked of her readers was to discover what we loved to eat, and then learn how to cook it, assuming it wasn’t too “fiddly”. In contrast to dozens of male chefs, she felt no urge to awe us with her genius or her knife skills. As she announced: “I have nothing to declare but my greed.”

For those of us who love How to Eat above all other food books, what it offered was that original voice, which worked its way into your head and made you feel braver in the kitchen. It was the voice of a woman who did not feel the need to hide or disguise her own appetites, as so many of us are taught to do. Americans had already known some of that boldness about food from the late MFK Fisher, author of Serve It Forth (1937) and Consider the Oyster (1941), who paraded her joy in eating to please only herself, but in Britain, the freedom of Nigella’s voice felt very new. She did not tell us – as Elizabeth David did – the correct way to do something, but the way that happened to give her the most pleasure for the least amount of hassle. In her recipe for ratatouille, she departs from “Mrs David’s” firmness about pre-salting and draining the aubergines, noting pointedly that “missing out this stage hasn’t resulted in a hopelessly soggy mess”.

Those who only arrived at Nigella later, on TV, will never fully understand that her first and greatest appeal as a food writer was non-visual and writerly. How to Eat contained not a single photograph of food and only one of its author, on the dust-jacket. It relied purely on text to inform as well as to amuse. It’s a far funnier book than most recipe collections. Much of it took the form not of recipes but of chatty thoughts and meditations on food: on what she kept in her kitchen cupboards (marsala and vanilla sugar), or on the ways in which making mayonnaise from scratch was like reading the novels of Henry James: easy until an outsider suggests otherwise. It probably wouldn’t be possible, she has observed, for a first-time author to have such a book published now.

During the Renaissance, cookbooks were often referred to as “books of secrets”, filled with carefully hoarded formulas, although in reality these secrets were often hopelessly inaccurate recipes rehashed without testing. William Kitchiner, author of The Cook’s Oracle, claimed in 1830 to be the first cookbook author ever to have tried out all the recipes in his own book. Kitchiner was exaggerating – he had overlooked such gems as Mrs Raffald’s 1769 book The Experienced English Housekeeper – but not by much. Even Isabella Beeton, author of the 1861 bestseller Book of Household Management, probably only ever cooked a handful of her own recipes.

Over time, recipe books aimed at the home cook – many of them written by cookery teachers such as Fannie Farmer of the Boston Cooking School – became more practical and reliable but not necessarily more exciting. There was a little flurry of interesting English cookbooks in the 1920s and 1930s, most of them sadly forgotten, but it was only in the mid 20th century that the genre of the home cookbook fully came alive. When Elizabeth David published A Book of Mediterranean Food in 1950, it was a departure because of the way that she wrote, with poetry and scholarship and a sense of adventure – and about a world of ingredients beyond Britain: apricots, olive oil, garlic. David gave rise to a generation of traveller-cooks such as Jane Grigson and Claudia Roden, who saw food as a lens through which to explore the world and its customs.

When Nigella burst on to the scene, she was clearly steeped in the recipes of Roden and Grigson, but no longer so bound by a sense of tradition. How to Eat is a book neither of customs nor of secrets but of passions, from ham in Coca-Cola to baked, spiced aromatic plums. “I love the buttery creaminess of the sauce, saltily-spiked with hot-cubed pancetta”, she wrote as a preface to spaghetti carbonara. The book was a clarion call to stop all the silly pretending about food that had gone on for far too long in Britain: the snobbery and the dinner party one-upmanship. “Remember,” she wrote in her chapter on weekend lunches, “you are not trying to produce the definitive Sunday lunch … The idea is to make a lunch which you want to eat and can imagine sitting down to do so without bursting into tears.”

The narrator of How to Eat understood what it was to feel daunted – whether by the mechanics of making a gravy or a pie-crust, by the exhaustion of feeding young children, or by a desire to lose weight. “If you need to eat between meals, don’t allow yourself to feel you’ve failed,” she insisted. Even the chapter on eating to lose weight managed to be sensuous and non-judgmental. She suggests that “restrained” eating is easier if you can make a “fetish, almost, out of eating the food”. Take this suggestion for figs. “Cut crosses in figs – as if quartering them without cutting right through them – so that they open like bird-throated flowers.”

Returning to the book after all these years, one of the surprises is how little the food has dated. There’s nothing here that I wouldn’t still eat with relish. Long before Yotam Ottolenghi spearheaded a cauliflower renaissance, Nigella was roasting it in the oven with cumin. She was ahead of the game on ingredients such as tahini and kale, and in her seasonal devotion to quinces and damsons and seville oranges, which she recommends not just in marmalade but squirted over fish. This book also prefigured the current obsession with avocado toast in its recipe for guacamole, which insisted – rightly – that avocado was better mashed with lime, coriander and chilli, but no tomatoes. Without the tomatoes, she observed, “instead of the usual burst-boil mulch, you end up with a perfect buttery-yellow and jade clay”.

Because Nigella’s writing is so appetite-driven, it’s easy to miss the fact that the recipes are remarkably precise. One of the reasons the book has lasted so well is that the timings and the ratios can be depended on, and the food they produce is reliably wonderful. You can tell that people actually cook from Nigella from the fact that our supermarkets now stock large bunches of flat-leaf parsley and Italian OO flour, two of her signature items. For 20 years, it has been the first reference guide I look to when I have forgotten how much oil to vinegar to put in a salad dressing or how to roast the potatoes for Christmas dinner.

There is a particular bond of trust between a cookbook writer and his or her reader that is not at all the same as the relationship we have with a novelist. We don’t just need the words to make us feel things on the page, but to teach us what our own hands are capable of. It is a visceral connection. A disappointing novel can simply be abandoned halfway through, no harm done, but a bad recipe can leave a horrible taste and the cook simmering with a sense of betrayal. I have a tendency to write annoyed scribbles in the margins of cookbooks when the author tells me to do something illogical, or forgets an ingredient, but in the whole of How to Eat I only ever wrote one mild complaint – when Nigella says to get the butter for a raspberry bakewell tart “very soft”, only for it then to be melted. No matter. My annoyance evaporated the moment we tasted the tart, which was more fragrant and buttery than any bakewell tart I’d ever known, rich with almonds and squidgily soft from the dark red raspberries.

Now almost every British cookery writer channels a bit of that atmosphere of liberated and unashamed greed. I can see her spirit in all the best young food writers, such as Thomasina Miers, Rachel Roddy, Thom Eagle, Gill Meller and Felicity Cloake. I can hear echoes in the writing of vegetarian chef Anna Jones, when she writes, in late summer, of trying to “wring out every last drop of the season”. There’s something of Nigella, too, in the brilliant descriptive writing of Meera Sodha, who notes that folding spinach into a pan is like “pushing a duvet into a magical handbag”. And she is surely there when Ruby Tandoh urges us to ditch the guilt of fad diets and “eat what you love”.

The new British addiction to baking, which is still one of the biggest trends in food publishing, was arguably sparked by Nigella and her cupcakes, although in this first book, she was still calling them fairy cakes. In the 20 years since How to Eat, there has been a new spirit of informality in much British cookery writing, from Persiana by Sabrina Ghayour to the joyous recipes of Diana Henry, who took Nigella’s obsession with roast chicken as the perfect meal and turned it into a whole book, A Bird in the Hand.

I don’t suggest that any of these writers are directly copying Nigella – her influence goes deeper than that. In How to Eat she mentions From Anna’s Kitchen by Anna Thomas, and that she often cooks “if not exactly from it, then inspired by it (which is more telling)”. I would say that the same is true of Nigella’s utterly pervasive influence on British cookery writing. No one had ever described food in quite her diction before: the “desirably crunchy carapace” of a roast duck, the “Blakean” yellow of a saffron-tinted fish pie. She introduced us to a whole new set of compound adjectives for food. Take this sentence, describing a dish of sage and onion puy lentils topped with cod wrapped in Parma ham: “This looks wonderful – the pebbly, oil-wet khaki-blackness of the lentils like a cobbled street underneath the cat’s-tongue-pink slabs of ham-wrapped fish.”

With every sentence, Nigella was asserting a right to speak about food from the truth of her own senses rather than out of a cordon bleu rulebook: “In cooking as in eating, you just have to let your real likes and dislikes guide you”. Many of her tastes – for roast grouse, for white truffles, for sole with chanterelle mushrooms – are undeniably posh, but she doesn’t see any point in pretending to be something that she is not. She makes no attempt to soften her food prejudices – she despises green peppers and cannot abide fruit bowls that contain more than one variety of fruit. For years, I would manically separate the apples and pears in our fruit bowl any time my husband accidentally allowed them to co-mingle before I realised that this particular bugbear was Nigella’s, and not mine.

How to Eat marked the end of the reign of the chefs and the start of a new era. The most influential of the cheffy books of the 90s was White Heat by Marco Pierre White (1990), which was full of smouldering black and white photographs of chefs in the kitchen wielding cleavers, like rock stars-turned-pirates. The message was clear: we civilians might master White’s incredible lemon tart or his seabass with essence of red peppers, but we would still always be inferior to these kitchen gods. (Not every chef’s book was quite so arrogant. Back then, I loved Keep It Simple by Alastair Little and The Sugar Club Cookbook by Peter Gordon, both of which were full of the fusion flavours that seemed so exciting at the time and were written with more concessions to the reality of cooking at home.)

To Nigella, however, good food was good food, whatever the origin. Unlike so many other cookery writers, who seem to fear revealing their lack of originality, she was punctilious in naming her sources. Her recipes were openly borrowed from some of the great British food writers who came before her: from Arabella Boxer and Anna del Conte, from Nigel Slater and Simon Hopkinson. But her version always added something new, because of the tone of honesty and warmth in which she talked us through the method.

I was trying to recapture what was wrong with so much recipe writing before How to Eat when my eye fell on Passion for Flavour by Gordon Ramsay, first published in 1996. This was the book I cooked from the most after I got married and before I had children, when I had time on my hands for making such things as langoustine stock and coconut tuiles. We ate well that year, thanks to Ramsay’s recipes, which included a rich dark chocolate tart and a vibrant green broccoli soup with goat’s cheese ravioli. But returning to his writing I was reminded of the daft assumptions that so many cookbooks used to make. Ramsay’s book is full of “trickles” of this and “drizzles” of “lightly infused” that, along with boastful declarations of how excited people will be when you present the great man’s masterpieces to them, in a spirit of triumph. The assumption is that we, the readers, should feel blessed that Gordon has chosen to grace us with his “secret pepper mix” and “healthy respect for vegetables”.

At one point, Ramsay announces a recipe as “another sublimely simple dish”. This turns out to be a starter of oysters poached in their own juices served with a watercress veloute and tagliatelle. Before you can even embark on the veloute, he expects you to make a fish stock, preferably using one and a half kilos of turbot bones. You then convert this fish stock into fish veloute using shallots, two kinds of cream and a cup each of dry white wine and vermouth, reduced down to a syrup. Only then are you in a position even to start making the watercress veloute, which requires no fewer than six bunches of watercress and “10 tiny sprigs of chervil”. Oh, and he meanwhile expects us to rustle up some homemade tagliatelle, to go with the poached oysters. “Curl a little of the prepared tagliatelle into each cleaned oyster shell. Keep warm.’ Sublimely simple?

In a way, it is unfair of me to complain, because the elaboration of Ramsay’s cookery was simply what was required in a Michelin-starred restaurant at the time. But as a normal person, to read such a recipe presented in a cookbook was to feel like a failure multiple times over. How to Eat was one of the first books to make the case that home food should not apologise for not being restaurant food, because it could be something different and often better. Chefs did not have a monopoly on deliciousness. Beyond the “tyranny of the recipe”, cooking is best learned at your own stove, Nigella insists. “I couldn’t help noticing,” she writes, that “some chefs … have no authentic language of their own”. She offers the then-fashionable phrase “pan-fried” as an example, which as she rightly points out, usually means nothing more than “fried”. Unlike Ramsay – and so many other chef authors – she does not presume that we have an endless array of kitchen equipment at our disposal. My love for How to Eat was cemented when I followed her recipe for chickpea and pasta soup, which includes three sprigs of rosemary tied in muslin. She knows the muslin sounds “pernickety” but warns us that when she ignored the advice she found the sharp rosemary needles “an unpleasant intrusion”. Her wonderfully pragmatic solution is that if we are intimidated by muslin, we can use “a pop-sock or stocking and tie a knot at the open end”. How to Eat was one of the first books since Cooking in Ten Minutes by Edouard de Pomiane that fully appreciated what it felt like to be a working person cooking under the modern pulse of time pressure.

Two decades on, the task of trusting our own palates to tell us what to eat has become more complicated than ever. We are assailed on all sides by forces trying to twist our palates and make us mistrust our own senses. On the one hand, there is the aggressive marketing of the food industry that pushes sugary foods in dishonest packaging at us. There is also a growing wellness industry that preaches terror of basic everyday ingredients, from grains to cheese. There has never been a better time to return to the sanity of this book and its call to come to our senses in the kitchen.
tilføjet af kleh | RedigerThe Guardian, Bee Wilson (Oct 6, 2018)
 
How to Eat is easy to find on my bookshelf. It is the book in tatters. The one whose spine is torn, whose pages are smeared, smudged and scorched. The book that has clearly done service for 20 years.

You can tell from the title this is more than a recipe book. From the first entry for roast chicken (stick half a lemon up its bottom) to the last – Marmite sandwiches (cream the butter and Marmite together as if you were making a cake) – the book is clearly the work of a roll-your-sleeves-up cook. Someone deeply familiar with the appetites of food-loving friends and a growing family. This is not some pictures-of-plates coffee-table tome.

Nigella’s prose is lustrous, seductive and reassuring. You feel you are sitting by the cooker, Nigella passing you slightly-too-hot fritters from a pan as you gossip. She gently guides and cajoles her readers rather than barking orders at them. This is less a cookery manual, more a guide to having a good time at the table. It says everything that Delia wrote How to Cook and Nigella How to Eat. And that’s the difference between this and most other cookbooks. This is about meals rather than recipes, be it a solitary supper (pasta with anchovy sauce) or lunch for six (roast pork, red cabbage and gingerbread).

There is much relief here for the new cook: “One doesn’t want to wade too deep into canapé land.” And much helpfulness for us all: “This [hazelnut cake] happens to be a brilliant way to use up freezer-stored egg whites .”

The book respects the classics but isn’t enslaved by them. Nigella often talks about the “tyranny” of the recipe. There is much generosity too. Other writers are credited where barely necessary, she gives the reader a long and interesting introduction to each dish and you come away feeling Nigella is happier brandishing a ladle than she is a teaspoon. She is greedy in the best possible way. The portions are ample, the ingredients unstinting, the prose warm and comforting. Any one of her puddings would bust a gusset.

Yes, this is more than a cookbook, but heavens, the recipes are good. There is a balance between the useful everyday stuff – “crumble”, “gravy”, “mayonnaise” – and the more decadent: “A camp, but only slightly, dinner for six.” Whether it was intended or not, the recipes are autobiographical. You know the inclusion of a baby-weaning chart, plus suggestions for linguine with clams, fairy cakes, Midsummer dinner for eight and Christmas Eve goose are recipes based on the honest reality of family life rather than something dreamed up at a food stylist’s desk.

How to Eat is, at its heart, a deeply practical yet joyously readable book. Three paragraphs in and one feels inspired, heartened and ravenous. A chapter or two later, your new friend at your side, you are all set to head off to the kitchen and have a truly glorious time.
tilføjet af kleh | RedigerThe Guardian, Nigel Slater (Sep 16, 2018)
 

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'At its heart, a deeply practical yet joyously readable book...you are all set to head off to the kitchen and have a truly glorious time' Nigel Slater, Guardian Revisit and discover the sensational first cookbook from Nigella Lawson. When Nigella Lawson's first book, How to Eat, was published in 1998, two things were immediately clear: that this fresh and fiercely intelligent voice would revolutionise cookery writing, and that How to Eat was an instant classic of the genre. Here was a versatile culinary bible, through which a generation discovered how to feel at home in the kitchen and found the confidence to experiment and adapt recipes to their own needs. This was the book to reach for when hastily organising a last-minute supper with friends, when planning a luxurious weekend lunch or contemplating a store-cupboard meal for one, or when trying to tempt a fussy toddler. This was a book about home cooking for busy lives. The chief revelation was the writing. Rather than a set of intimidating instructions, Nigella's recipes provide inspiration. She has a gift for finding the right words to spark the reader's imagination, evoking the taste of the ingredients, the simple, sensual pleasures of the practical process, the deep reward of the finished dish. Passionate, trenchant, convivial and wise, Nigella's prose demands to be savoured, and ensures that the joy and value of How to Eat will endure for decades to come. 'How to eat, how to cook, how to write: I want two copies of this book, one to reference in the kitchen and one to read in bed' Yotam Ottolenghi WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY JEANETTE WINTERSON

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