Written in a style similar to that of Nigel Slater’s multi-award-winning food memoir Toast, this is a celebration of the glory, humour, eccentricities and embarrassments that are The British at Table.
The British have a relationship with their food that is unlike that of any other country. Once something that was never discussed in polite company, it is now something with which the nation is obsessed. But are we at last developing a food culture or are we just going through the motions? ‘Eating for England’ is an entertaining, detailed and somewhat tongue-in-cheek observation of the British and their food, their cooking, their eating and how they behave in restaurants, with chapters on — amongst other things — dinner parties, funeral teas, Indian restaurants, dieting and eating whilst under the influence.
Written in Nigel Slater’s trademark readable style, Eating for England highlights our idiosyncratic attitude towards the fine art of dining.
This really is a book about food in Britain; it is totally, irrevocably, 100% English in its style, content and execution. Rather than being a full on memoir or guide to British food, from Custards to the story behind the beloved afternoon tea, each foodstuff is afforded an anecdotal snippet or two. This makes it lovely to devour in one or two sittings, as you would read any other book (like I did), or simply to dip in and out of, perhaps waiting for the bus or sitting on the ever slow District Line, and digest in slow, savoured morsels.
Not only does it share Nigel Slater’s own anecdotal stories connected to some of the Great British culinary (and not so) classics, it invokes your own memories; the entry on Club biscuits where he talkes about the holy grail day of finding one which was just chocolate being like ‘winning the Premium Bonds’, he followed with just a passing mention of a Kit Kat. It had me spiralling down a nostalgic lane to morning break-times at my boarding school where I used to retrive a flimsy paper and tinfoil wrapped Kit Kat from the Student Social Center every morning, Monday to Saturday and eat each piece slowly, hoping beyond hope that I was biting into one with a bit more chocolate and a little less cream filled wafer at one end.
This is not just a book for the dissering foodie; it is something to be enjoyed by anyone who is British and likes to eat. Flipping through it in my Los Angeles apartment it was a balm to my slightly homesick melancolony, transporting me back to my mother’s kitchen, and putting a smile on my face. While I love reading about food, I think it has to be something to do with my age that this is the first one of Nigel Slater’s books I’ve ever picked up. However, I promise you that you’ll be just as taken in by his easy and humorous prose as I have been, and equally as eager to get your hands on everything else he has ever written as soon as possible, too.