Nigel Slater’s autobiorgaphy – Toast, review

4.5 stars / 5

Toast, Nigel Slater

This book is really, really good! It is rather difficult to describe to someone but it’s pretty much short chapters headed with some food experience he’s had, e.g. apple pie, arctic roll, burnt toast, etc. Included are snippets of his life carefully intertwined, in a somewhat chronological order so that after a while you get a sense of what his life was like (in particular his childhood and teenage years). It is brutally honest. Insensitively honest some might say, but as a lot of the people featured in the book are dead Slater can be as honest as he wants with no one to embarrass. I think it is a really good book and is light easy reading with the odd laugh-out-loud or sympathetic “ohhhhh!” when things go badly wrong. A partcicular example of this is the incident involving the spaghetti bolognese they made, “The pasta is escaping!”. All in all, a very interesting book. I myself read it in two days. Highly reccomended.

Below is a link to a good review from the guardian.co.uk., and the second is one to the book on amazon.co.uk with its customer which are worth reading.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2003/oct/19/biography.foodanddrink

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Toast-The-Story-Boys-Hunger/dp/1841154717/ref=cm_cr_pr_pb_t

The Man Who Ate Everything review

Hi there! It’s been quite a while since my last post. Sorry for that. I’ve been working on a lot of end of term reassessments at school and haven’t been able to find the time to write; and I also forgot about it, twice. Anyway, I thought I’d try and make a real effort on this one, as it’s late…

This is a copy of a reading response I submitted as part of an English portfolio this year. I had to do about six of them and this is the only one I handed in that got an immediate excellence, which makes me very proud of it as that sort of thing doesn’t happen often – I normally have to rework it a couple of times with my teacher to bring it up to an E. I would love to hear your thoughts about it in the comments section too!

Also, I’m now going to start writing more book reviews for the blog which I think you’ll like. I’m not sure if a reading response qualifies as one though so I’m adding here my thoughts that – ‘I found “The Man Who Ate Everything” to be just brilliant. Jeffrey Steingarten’s acclaimed first compilation of essays on food most certainly lives up to it’s phenomenal praise and I thoroughly enjoyed it. His writing especially was a pleasure to read (But I wouldn’t expect anything less from the food editor of Vogue). I hope you give it a go as it’s a really cool read. Why don’t you grab a copy from your local bookstore, from the Kindle Store or at your closest library, and maybe throw in a bar of Valrhona, or if in New Zealand, a bar of Whittaker’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Block (which is my favourite chocolate, even though it’s not dark) and settle down to a few good hours of reading.

5 stars out of five. I would also recommend it as a great present for a fellow foodie.

The Man Who Ate Everything

English reading response on “The Man Who Ate Everything”, by Jeffrey Steingarten
Text type – Non-fiction, collection of food essays

For this reading responses I elected to write about the book – “The Man Who Ate Everything”, by Jeffrey Steingarten. It is a compilation of articles and essays about food, and about experimenting with food; how to make it better. One article was entirely devoted to water and about how to make it taste like everyone imagines it should. You know, that pure and delicious ethereal spring water on the crest of an ice capped Swiss mountain. All in all though, a very interesting read.

The thing that stood out to me about Steingarten while reading his book was his mildly obsessive compulsion to better the taste of his food. How he went about researching it and so on. He went to extraordinary lengths to achieve culinary perfection, or very near to it which I thought was really cool. A good example of this would be the article where he travelled through a whole lot of series of small brasseries in the French countryside until he found the perfect sauerkraut. This showing how passionate he is about his work. Or how he went all around Sicily to find the world’s best and most traditional sorbet; making me admire and truly appreciate how much work/effort Jeffrey put into his research and how devoted he is to food, (He is the food editor at Vogue after all) and it expresses his passion for it.

I think that this links to the modern world in a whole lot of ways. There are more and more people today who are passionate about food and who are intent on discovering the true nature of a dish, who are insistent on finding out more, how to make things better, how to add more dimensions to a dish. I was watching a program on Food TV where one French chef was so inexorably dedicated to the art of salads and who went on and on about how wonderful they were that he wrote a book with hundreds of different recipes for them. Every ingredient for every recipe thoroughly analysed and thought out in the most thought-provoking and inexplicably delicious way for the palate’s enjoyment.

The world needs more people like them and like Jeffrey. Can you imagine a world where food was boring, or where the true and original recipes were lost forever? It would be like Beethoven’s Ode to Joy being changed again and again over the years until nobody knew the right notes and where it sounded awful. Jeffrey gets the true recipes and improves them, him and other cooks in the world, but still stays true to the original. Very noble work in my view.

 

By the way… I would like to thank you very much for taking the time to read my blog. While writing it I never forget how invaluable my readership is and how lucky I am to have any followers at all – right now it’s floating around 20 or so. It’s not a huge number. But considering how many thousands of blogs and internet publications there are out there on the world wide web, I am very glad and consider myself very fortunate that my posts are seen by people other than myself and that I’m not just wasting effort. I hope that you noticed my post was late too.

Thank you.

P.S. If you think there is anything I could improve or add to my blog then why don’t you give me feedback on it. I would be very interested to hear your thoughts and if I implement them then they may increase my audience, which would be awesome! And if you feel like it, why don’t you pass this on?

The Paleo diet –

Animals of the Paelolithic era

I recently heard of the Paleo diet while I was making headway through some of the seemingly hundreds of emails that arrive in my inbox each week. Emails from popular food blogs, blogs I just like, online magazines, gardening circulars, etc, and while reading the latest blog post from the Lexie’s Kitchen food blog, where she was reviewing this new cookbook – by Tammy Credicott  (you can find the link to it here – http://www.lexieskitchen.com/lexies_kitchen/2013/9/23/new-book-make-ahead-paleo.html), I subsequently found out about the Paleo diet. This may only be news to me, in which case I’m sorry to disappoint you, but after a quick google search and a light skim of the official website, I found a whole lot of information about the diet and concept, which is a thought-provoking and thoroughly interesting idea.

Apparently this diet tries to mimic the eating habits of our pre-agricultural, hunter-gatherer ancestors using our modern-day foods.

The concept was first thought of by Loren Cordain PH.D (“The world’s leading expert on Palaeolithic diets and founder of the Paleo movement” – as proclaimed on the official website – http://thepaleodiet.com).

As you might expect, the type of food you’d eat if you went on the diet would be lean, whole foods. Particularly grass-fed meat and fish, fruit and veggies, nuts and eggs. Nothing that was not available to them, oh, except potato. That’s a bit of a strange one. No starchy food of any kind is meant to be eaten on the diet. According to the official website “Non-starchy fresh fruits and vegetables represent the main carbohydrate source (while on the diet) and will provide for 35-45 % of your daily calories. Almost all of these foods have low glycemic indices that are slowly digested and absorbed, and won’t spike blood sugar levels.”

While on the diet you are supposed to have a –

higher protein intake,

higher fibre

higher potassium

moderate to higher fat intake, which is mainly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats with balanced Omega-3 and Omega-6 fats (I’m not exactly sure what these are. They sound good though.)

larger intake of, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and plant phytochemicals

lower carbohydrate and glycemic index

net dietary alkaline load that balances dietary acid

and so on and so on…

 

Following this diet also makes you healthier, helps you to lose weight and also lessens you’re chance of contracting the chronic diseases of today. Like obesity, gout, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, acne.

The only problem that I have with the diet is that while on it you can’t consume dairy. Something I don’t think I could ever be without. I’m not sure why you’re not supposed to eat it, but as a person who doesn’t enjoy their morning coffee black and eats a surprisingly high amount of yoghurt, I can assure you that I would not be able to even try going on this diet. There’s also cheese, chocolate, mayonnaise and ice cream to think about too. None of which, incidentally, are in any way healthy.

Now you are informed at least. I thought it was an idea worth sharing and may give you something to think about next time you jump on the scales, myself included. And I guess if the diet worked for our stone age ancestors, it should work for us as we are genetically predisposed to follow their eating habits and are hardwired for them.


Some other interesting sources of info –

The paleo diet blog – http://thepaleodiet.com/the-paleo-diet-blog/

http://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/food-wine/food-news/9208848/What-to-know-about-paleo

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/86dcab6e-26c7-11e3-9dc0-00144feab7de.html

and obviously, – http://thepaleodiet.com/

 

The following is a list that will give you a rough idea of the foods you can and cannot consume if you intend to go on the Paleo diet. You will need to look at some of the books dedicated to the subject for a more comprehensive one .

 

Eat –

Grass-produced meats

 Fish/seafood

Fresh fruits and veggies

Eggs

Nuts and seeds

Healthy oils (Olive, walnut, flaxseed, macadamia, avocado, coconut)

 

Don’t eat –

      Cereal grains

        Legumes (including peanuts)

        Dairy

        Refined sugar

        Potatoes

        Salt

        Refined vegetable oils