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Tender: A Cook and His Vegetable Patch Hardcover – April 26, 2011
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Alice Waters is the visionary chef and owner of Chez Panisse and the author of ten cookbooks, including The Art of Simple Food and In the Green Kitchen.
This lovely book is a celebration of the senses: Nigel Slater describes a carrot with such attention, tenderness, and humor that it feels like he is introducing a dear friend to his readers. He understands the perfection of a runner bean in midsummer, and explores its flavor in a way that is pure, honest, and delicious. His prose is a pleasure to read--full of life and enjoyment of the table--and the photography makes it a lush and beautiful book.
Even as he delivers a collection of elegant, simply constructed recipes, Slater also taps into the reasons we engage with food--reasons both sensory and philosophical. “The idea of planting a seed, watching it grow, then eating the result instantly does away with much of the baggage that goes hand in hand with our modern food supply,” he writes. In Tender, we have the rare insight of a cook who knows not only the kitchen, but also the garden. Slater is passionate about every moment in the process of growing, cooking, and consuming food, and he starts with the essential notion of “reading” a plate--which is to say, pondering the where and why of the food we prepare. He weaves this notion effortlessly into his chapters, whether he is discussing his favorite varieties of eggplant (which he grows in deep clay pots against his warmest wall) or sharing his love of walking around the garden on a summer night when peas are in season: “To burst a pod of peas and eat them in the dark is a sweet joy.” Tender is full of small but irresistible observations like this.
“a valentine to produce”
—Mother Jones, Favorite Cookbooks of 2011, 12/3/11
“Little about TENDER, British writer Nigel Slater’s quietly epic cookbook about preparing vegetables, feels designed for the American consumer. The author’s preoccupations are so personal, so drawn from the quotidian pleasures of tending his small garden in London, that they feel far removed from the celebrity-penned, diet-driven, ego-tripping cookbooks that dominate U.S. bestseller lists. . . . Slater, in other words, is an obsessive, but one whose obsession seems to stop in the kitchen. Slater has too much respect for all involved — the ingredient, the reader, the joy of discovery in the kitchen — to want to serve as your nanny. He’d rather play your mentor, the kind who wants you to love the messy process, not just the finished dish, which, come to think of it, you’ll love, too. These easy-to-execute dishes go down just as easy. It all makes you look forward to Slater’s second “Tender” volume, dedicated to fruits, due to arrive stateside next spring.”
—The Washington Post, 8/2/11
“Not only is Nigel Slater one of the greatest living food writers, he's also the ultimate urban gardener. His latest book, Tender, just might inspire you to tear up your lawn and get planting.”
—Bon Appétit, August 2011
“A seriously hefty and seriously engaging homage to the garden, from one of Britain’s foremost food authorities.”
—NYTimes.com, Summer Cookbook Roundup, 6/2/11
“Tender is pleasing in so many ways. For cooks it's filled with glorious vegetable-centric recipes, for gardeners it's an insightful and personal story about just how much a garden can mean, and for those who just enjoy reading about food, well, you're going to love getting acquainted with Nigel Slater.”
—Serious Eats, Cook the Book, 5/23/11
“But the crowning glory of "Tender" is Mr. Slater's own prose, even when treating of something as lowly as the autumnal cabbage—each dark-green leaf of which "somehow seems as if it will fend off our winter ills. Elephant ears of crinkled green, sparkling with dew; black plumes of cavolo nero like feathers on a funeral horse, and the dense, ice crisp flesh of red cabbage. Strong flavors indeed." Strong, yes, but also tenderly enticing, as guests at Mr. Slater's latest literary feast will discover.”
—The Wall Street Journal, Bookshelf, 4/23/11
“The best Brit you’ve never heard of. . . . Nigel Slater is who you’d get if you combined Alice Waters with Mark Bittman: a garden-to-table advocate whose goal in life is to make people love fresh produce and cooking because they are – gasp – fabulous and fun and do not have to be fussy in the slightest.”
—The Christian Science Monitor, 4/19/11
“Engagingly written and showcasing more than 200 full-color photos, this attractive and infinitely useful collection shows how to tastefully incorporate more vegetables into one's diet while providing an informative primer on gardening.”
—Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, 3/7/11
“Nigel Slater’s Tender is a rich tale of one man’s passion for cultivating, cooking, and eating from the garden. His sensuous and delicious recipes make us want to run right into the kitchen and start cooking. But even if you never set a foot in your garden or turn on the stove, it is a great, inspiring read.”
—Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton, authors of Canal House Cooking
“As a second-floor city-dweller with no patch of land to call my own, a glimpse into Nigel Slater’s garden sanctuary makes me ache for a small plot of good dirt, preferably just off a kitchen, to grow some of what I eat. Nigel captures the small moments—the rituals, sights, and smells—that are part of the cycle of growing, cooking, eating, and sharing, culminating in a collection of vibrant, bold yet approachable recipes. A rare treasure.”
—Heidi Swanson, author of Super Natural Cooking
“A home garden isn’t just the best source of the ultimately fresh. It’s also the place where scent, smell, and touch vie with taste to inspire and shape our culinary imagination. Nigel Slater, a food writer too little known in this country, has a unique ability to convey this magical play of the senses, and what happens when we let it permeate our cooking. The imaginative, often inspired dishes that result are a revelation. Tender deserves pride of place on any vegetable lover’s shelf.”
—John Thorne, author of Outlaw Cook
“Nigel Slater is my kind of cook. His gently passionate garden-to-kitchen approach shows respect for the beauty of simple ingredients. He celebrates the sweetness of a roasted onion, the thrill of a ripe berry, and the real pleasure of a good salad.”
—David Tanis, author of Heart of the Artichoke
Top Customer Reviews
Nigel Slater is well known and loved in the UK. I have for years saved clippings of his recipes from the Guardian, where I was first introduced to his work. His recipes just seem so intuitive and easy. Nothing is about measuring really, it's all about what tastes good. Working through his recipes, you realize what cooking is all about-- marrying flavors to fit your palate. So you don't really have a sense that if you don't follow the recipe to a T, it won't come out. You know that you'll be happy to sit down with a plate of food you pulled together from what you had, just the way great home cooking should be.
You'll clutch this book close to your heart, and want to share its beauty and perfection with everyone you know who loves food!
These writers view food through a different lens than other food writers. To them, food and cooking is not static, or a black and white formulaic topic, but a subject so beguiling that it merits thoughtful consideration. The best of the lot don't just teach us how to cook but share with us their vision about food and cooking: they muse, debate, decide, select, and present us with situations that gives us the confidence to realize that, yes, I can cook like this, too. This approach shows us that after one has learned the basics of good cooking, that the need to follow recipes exactly-to-the-letter is less valuable than learning to develop one's instincts in the kitchen.
Nigel Slater's writing is very welcoming. For him, the process of selecting the foods and ingredients at market, and ready-ing himself to cook, and the steps involved in constructing and then cooking the dish are an important part of his engagement with the food. I think that under his influence, all cooks can find some area in the kitchen that they could pay more attention to.
His voice is personal, and spoken in an intimate and joyful way from writer to reader, cook to cook. His musings consider numerous variables: he wants the reader to find these details as important as he does.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Tender has been one of those life-changing books for me. I began using it three years ago and my cooking and appreciation of vegetables has changed dramatically. Read morePublished 2 months ago by herstrangemind
Just like Nigel Slater's previous books, this book is arranged by ingredient, which is my very favorite way to put a cook book together. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Baba Yaga in the City
great book. Makes you want run off to London and start your own home gardeningPublished 13 months ago by Teamster
Bought it for my wife - she loves it. Beautiful book, although I can't speak to the content.Published 15 months ago by kb98indy
Everything I've cooked from this book is amazing. The recipes are thoughtfully written so it feels like a friend is walking you through the process with helpful hints such as... Read morePublished 16 months ago by Whitney Riter
I love this book. For anyone who gardens or has a vegetable box CSA membership or visits farmer's markets, YOU NEED THIS BOOK. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Shakira Chadwick
What a GORGEOUS book. I try to surround myself with food writers who love the food they eat; and if you love vegetables, and especially if you want to love vegetables more,... Read morePublished 17 months ago by steppe22
Beautiful book - lovely paper and pictures. I found the recipes uninteresting, and perhaps too 'British" - lots of bacon, milk, and cheese. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Dawn O then A