If you consider eating with friends and family a joyful, indulgent celebration chances are you love a good feast. And who better to carefully guide you through the daunting task of preparing that Feast
than the domestic goddess herself Nigella Lawson. Written in the tradition of Nigella Bites
and How to Eat
is a cookbook for the sensualist that wants to eat very well, but also wants to spend time enjoying the company of their guests instead of struggling with the creation of the meal. What sets Lawson apart is not that she's a good cookbook writer, but a strong writer period. Similar to her other books, Nigella's Feast
is presented as part personal memoir, part educational, and part recipe presentation. There is a nice blend of occasions including the obvious (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, and Easter), a few culturally specific ones (Rosh Hashanah, Georgian Feast, and Venetian Feast), feasts for kids, for vegetarians, and an elegant cocktail party. Each chapter begins with an overview of that particular "Feast." Generally, there is a personal story and experience told, an overview of the cultural importance of the feast, and a description of foods that are associated with each occasion. Impressively, every recipe begins with a personal anecdote giving that impression Nigella didn't just throw it in the book, but is experienced with the recipe and has used it with success. Take her twist on the decadent Chocolate Guinness Cake for example: "I wanted to make a cream cheese frosting to echo the pale head that sits on top of a glass of stout. It's unconventional to add cream but it makes it frothier and lighter which I regard as aesthetically and gastronomically desirable." Who can argue? The cake is to die for. So next time you need to prepare a dinner party let the goddess be your guide, and remember: Keep the preparation simple, use easily available ingredients, and take time to enjoy your guests and your meal. Feast
may not be the most advanced cookbook you will own, but if you want to create excellent food with relative ease in a short amount of time, you can not beat Nigella. --Rob Bracco
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. "Cooking has many functions, and only one of them is about feeding people," writes Lawson in a cookbook that makes the preparation of Thanksgiving, Christmas and other feasts seem so approachable and richly rewarding that it may coax even hardcore cynics or cowards to give roast turkey with all the trimmings a try. For starters, there is Lawson's star quality. "When we go into a kitchen, indeed when we even just think about going into a kitchen, we are both creating and responding to an idea we hold about ourselves, about what kind of person we wish to be." The person that Lawson has demonstrated a wish to be while cooking on her TV show Nigella Bites
and in her cookbooks (How to Be a Domestic Goddess
, etc.) is a woman in full, alive in body and mind.Lawson has always playfully gloried in the erotic possibilities of cooking. She has always proclaimed herself an eater rather than a chef, but what she is really is a marvelous, funny food writer for our pressured times. She knows exactly how to balance her relish of the earthy with just the right twist of smarty-pants, Oxford-inflected wit. Explaining, for example, why she now chooses to bake stuffing in a terrine, she hastens to note that while she is "perfectly happy with my arm up a goose as I ram it with compacted sauerkraut, or whatever the occasion demands, I find turkey-wrangling just one psycho-step too far. The bird is too heavy, the cavity too small, and the job is just too tragi-comic to be managed alone and after all that Christmas wrapping, too." Lawson knows how to make her readers fall in love (or at least in lust) with her.Readers will come away from this book with a sense of what she thinks is worth loving. Along with her recipes for Christmas pudding or her "amplification" of her mother's green beans (involving "vicious amounts of lemon"), Lawson teaches what is primal and timeless about feasting. "I am not someone who believes that life is sacred, but I know it is very precious," she writes in a final section about funeral feasts that describes Mormon potatoes and Jewish eggs, comfort food to remind the bereaved "that life goes on, that living is important." She ends the book with Rosemary Remembrance Cake in honor of her grandmother Rosemary (and anybody else who happens to have read Shakespeare and knows that rosemary is for remembrance). Lawson shows that creating a feast doesn't just nourish the body and the mind—it creates an even more interesting self that also has a heart, whose function is remembering. 150 color photos.
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