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Eat: The Little Book of Fast Food Paperback – September 30, 2014
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“The Holy Grail of home cooking is food that is quick to make but not thoughtless or compromised. Nigel Slater’s recipes achieve this in such a skillful and satisfying manner that you may begin to wonder why you’d even bother with longer format cooking again.”
—Deb Perelman, author of The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
“Nigel Slater is such a joyful writer. But what I love best about his books is the way he thinks about flavor, dreaming up combinations I’m eager to taste. He’s done it again: I want to make every recipe in this book.”
—Ruth Reichl, author of Delicious!
“Nothing [is] ever going to come close to Eat. An instant classic.”
—2013 Cookbook of the Year, The Times of London
“As I paged through Eat, I stuck a Post-it note on every recipe I was excited to try. By the time I was done, the book looked like a porcupine with pink paper quills. . . .The weeknight-friendly recipes call for few ingredients, but they’re intriguingly and intelligently combined.”
About the Author
NIGEL SLATER is the author of numerous bestselling books, including Notes from the Larder and the James Beard Award-winning Ripe and Tender. He has written a column for the Observer for twenty years and is the host of the BBC series Simple Suppers. His memoir, Toast, won British Biography of the Year, and has been adapted into a feature film. He lives in London.
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NOTE: I am reviewing the US Edition of this book, published by Ten Speed Press on Sept. 30, 2014. There is an earlier UK Edition, and this is not it. The book on this product page has been edited by Ten Speed Press to include US measurements.
ANOTHER NOTE: What does "Turtleback" cover mean? It means this is not really a "hard cover" book. The cover is very thin cardboard, covered with some kind of a cloth material. It bends easily and is not very substantial. Now that I have the book in hand, I am somewhat disappointed in the quality of the cover. Content of the book has my 5-star rating--I love Slater's work. Quality of the book, size and cover, is definitely not five-star.... But it is the only choice with this US Edition. Just know ahead of time what you are getting and you can rationalize it.
The first thing I wondered when I saw this book was how closely it resembled Slater's paperback "Real Fast Food" from 1995 and 2008. Turning the first few pages, it looked nothing like the older book: This new one--still dealing with "Fast Food"--was divided by cooking technique, the older book was divided by main food type or ingredient. To double-check, I quickly looked up the array of beef sandwiches in both books. No, definitely not, the new book is jam-packed with fresh ideas. And Slater even makes reference to the older book in his realization that we have come very far in our "everyday eating" in the past 20 years. I know these new recipes carry the experience from that book (and subsequent books) forward, but that is to be expected. (And that's the last I will say of that old book, which I will keep around for sentimental value only, `cause this one beats it by miles.)
As big as the book is (almost 500 pages), it is tongue-in-cheek called a "little" book by the author. So the reader deserves a little help finding their way around in it--and they get it: Following the listing of the chapters, there are a few pages to guide you on your way if you have a certain food in hand and want to use it. It breaks down meat, seafood, vegetables, fruit, pasta, beans, grains, eggs and cheese, and even leftovers into categories. (I love the "Leftovers" listings, and will be forever grateful for the idea of leftover chicken creamy lasagna.)
Except for the time you spend browsing through the book, the index will be indispensable: It is a worthy index, thank goodness.
Recipes presented, as has been the case in his past books, are for two servings, but they can easily be doubled, or halved, in most cases. Also, like his previous books, this one is perfect for a couple, especially those with a little space and time in their lives to savor and linger. Fast is not only important to young people with families and commutes and taxing jobs. Fast, simple, and uncomplicated is valuable to folks at the other end of the scale, too: Retirees who eat less, want to spend less time with cooking chores and get off their feet, who have downscaled their lives and living space, but want to relish and savor and live their meals to the fullest.
Browsing through one of Slater's books is calming, peaceful, rewarding, inspiring, and leads easily to introspection. It is a combination of his creations, the way he writes and the fabulous pictures.
There is so much here, so many ideas, that it is hard for me to go about this review in my normal way of mentioning specific recipes that worked and inspired. If this book has a fault, it is that it is overwhelming in the amount of terrific ideas. The recipes are over the top in flavor and eye appeal. I tried, but I can't even begin to pick out and list favorites. I suggest that you browse through the "Look Inside" feature on this product page. Take a look at the index and you will see the variety, and you can get a very good idea if this is your type of food.
My thoughts as I progressed through it: Nothing overly salty. Nothing overly sweet. Nothing overly rich. Slater tries to keep his ideas and combinations healthy, but he does not make recipes too lean, and he does not sacrifice the good life. The color and the beauty of the final dish is very important: Visual appeal is (almost) as important as taste. There is a lot of leeway, lots of "give", in Slater's recipes: Make a recipe as presented, alter it with what you have on hand, or just use the fabulous ideas.
Recipes are told in paragraph form. Ingredients are listed in bold face in the midst of sentences. I find it a bit hard to keep my place, but Slater has always written his recipes this way. Considering how few ingredients are necessary for each recipe, and how forgiving the quantities are, (but you'll want to get your spices and herbs correct the first go-round of any recipe), it is not a major--and hardly a minor--problem. Pictures are plentiful and beautiful.
I scrutinized the measurement editing that publisher Ten Speed Press added to this book, but I couldn't really find any glaring errors.
*I received a temporary download of this book from the publisher. I have been working with it for several months. I am so enthralled with this book, that I will be purchasing this one for myself soon. Yes, this book is suitable for everyone, but I think it would make a terrific gift for someone you know who loves to cook and is retiring and will have a bit extra time on their hands, empty nesters at loose ends, or has found themselves alone and looking for inspiration.