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Feast: Food to Celebrate Life Hardcover – October 27, 2004

4.3 out of 5 stars 60 customer reviews

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  • Feast: Food to Celebrate Life
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  • Nigella Express: 130 Recipes for Good Food, Fast
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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, Feast 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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Hachette Books; Third printing edition (October 27, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401301363
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401301361
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 9.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #164,812 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Esther Schindler TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 5, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Nigella Lawson seems to be the kind of cookbook author who causes people to respond to *her* more than her recipes. I suppose some of that is inevitable, as she has the sort of sultry girl-next-door looks that make us ordinary women contemplate a pact with the devil. But the book is, after all, about the recipes and menu guidance she provides. And I think she does a very good job at that, indeed.

This isn't simply a "holiday recipes" book; Lawson takes the "feast" theme to heart, and gives recipes for all sorts of occasions in which you're apt to be called to the kitchen. Sure, that includes Thanksgiving and Christmas (which she lumps together), as well as Valentine's day and Rosh Hashanah. But it also includes "a Georgian feast" (whose menu includes green beans in herbed yogurt, walnut crescents, and a chicken stuffed with basmati, garlic, and sour cherries), several feasts for making with/for children (the Halloween recipes include a "slime soup" -- actually a pea and cheese soup), and even a set of dishes to cook for funerals and grieving friends. Not to mention feasts for oneself, such as things to cook at midnight.

As you may have gathered, these recipes are organized by the nature of the event, which could get tedious if you wanted to look for all the soup recipes. But isn't that the point?

The recipes -- let's get to the meat of the matter, so to speak. While I don't think I'm going to change all my traditional dishes, I'm guaranteed to be inspired by some of her suggestions. I certainly am looking forward to using up my Thanksgiving turkey leftovers in her "North American Salad" (wild rice, dried cranberries, cooked turkey, cranberry sauce, pecans and parsley).
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Format: Hardcover
I can say, without embarrassment, that it took Nigella Lawson to get me to cook. Through her words, wisdom, and her book "Forever Summer" - with it's abundance of lamb, mint, and lemon - Nigella not only introduced me to the ease of cooking, but also to the mystery of spices and spice mixtures such as Sumac and Zatar. And perhaps, more importantly, Nigella and "Forever Summer" provided me with a healthy portion of reliable recipes to cook, eat, and enjoy with friends. "Feast," is like part two of my culinary education.

"Feast" is full of recipes for good food, cookable food, the kind of food you want to eat. The kind of food you want on your table when you celebrate, entertain family and friends, or when it's just dinner for two or even one. True to Lawson's style, nothing is to fussy or labor intensive. Whatever labor you put in you get back ten-fold in the results.

While Lawson does occasionally borrow from her earlier books like "How To Eat" and "Nigella Bites," it's only to offer up a different version of the dish, and it's often even better. And, it's refreshing that when Nigella uses a recipe found in another cookbook, she gives credit to the chef and the book. Then of course she twists and tweaks the recipe: making it even better.

"Feast" is my fall 2004 cooking bible.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Nigella is my original muse, she single handedly got me back into the kitchen and cooking when the days of making cookies with my grandmother passed and I had to start doing it on my own. I have all of her books and honestly they are something one can actually cook from, my shelves are bending from the amount of cookbooks they house but only half are being used to make dinners and cakes, others I look at for inspiration and for pictures but Nigella's recipes are worth every penny one spends on a cookbook. I can't express my love and gratitude for this woman; she's intelligent, cheerful, honest a magnificent food writer who actually got me into writing as well, I even got my first KitchenAid mixer because she used her so much to make all of her delectable treats. So fear not, this and other books that she penned are not only gorgeous to look at but they can help anyone put something mouth watering on the table in no time. This one has pictures on almost every page and a short little bit of how this came to be or how she eats it before each recipe, probably my favorite part of the book.

This book is broken into occasions rather than seasons or ingredients - Thanksgiving & Christmas, New Year, Meatless Feasts, Valentine's Day, Easter, Passover, Breakfast, Kitchen Feasts, Kiddiefeast, Cut-out Cookies, Chocolate Cake Hall of Fame, A Georgian Feast, Eid, Ultimate Feasts, Hallowe'en, Rosh Hashanah, A Venetian Feast, Festival of Lights, Partytime, Midnight Feast, Wedding Feast, Funeral Feast ( somber I know but the food is actually very appropriate and having herself lose her mother, sister and first husband to cancer, Nigella is still living life and making the best of what she has) so no matter what one celebrates they can find something good in this super large volume.
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Format: Hardcover
There is a mistake in the body of the recipe that may lead you to believe the cake contains butter. Supposedly, it does not, and this was a mistake on the part of the American publisher. I want future purchasers to know this so you won't have to spend an agonizing afternoon like I just did, second-guessing a recipe (and guessing wrong that butter does belong in the cake) the day before I planned to serve this cake at a party. (It's gluten free, great for your celiac friends.)

Now that I've got THAT off my chest ... I love this book! It made Christmas dinner a hit (the Brussels sprout recipe is divine!), and it is beautiful to look at and a pleasure to read, as are all of Nigella's books. Just mark that butter thing on the chocolate orange cake, and you'll be fine.
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