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Video review of Toast by Nigel Slater: my latest food memoir read


Toast: The Story of a Boy’s Hunger by Nigel Slater is the latest food memoir that I have read. I’m a fan of Heat by Bill Buford, Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain and The Hungry Years by William Leith. This memoir is a little softer than those three but that’s part of its appeal.

Slater is an English food writer on The Observer newspaper and is well known the UK. This book concerns a very English childhood in the West Midlands during the 1960s – a part of world hardly known for its fine dining. Every day was defined by what he ate and Nigel offers comment on everything toast to lamb chops.

In reality, Nigel is actually telling the story of his childhood through his meals. He explains the relationship between his mum and dad, and charts his mother’s descent into ill health. It’s a fast read and by the end we are seeing the author’s teenage years where he finds salvation as a dog’s body in a pub kitchen and realizes that his future lies in the food business.

The memoir moves effortlessly from a mundane meals to sudden references to his sexuality and then back again to lamb chops and gravy. The American edition has a glossary at the back so English food terms can be understood.

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Richard Davies

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