cover image The Kitchen Diaries: A Year in the Kitchen with Nigel Slater

The Kitchen Diaries: A Year in the Kitchen with Nigel Slater

Nigel Slater, . . Gotham, $40 (392pp) ISBN 978-1-59240-234-2

Few writers could get away with what London Observer columnist Slater does here: jotting down what he eats and recording recipes for the homemade items over the course of a year. Slater, though, has the writing chops to make it work—as proven in his memoir Toast . His style is lazily thoughtful, but also honest and unfussy: January 9 sees a "gray, endless drizzle" that makes it "the sort of day on which to light the fire, turn on the radio and bake a cake." The recipe for Double Ginger Cake that follows, however, highlights this book's sometimes problematic Britishness when it calls for both golden syrup and stem ginger in syrup, available, a footnote claims, "in some supermarkets and specialty shops." Slater's food isn't British in the stodgy sense. Indeed, he smoothly incorporates the flavors of other cultures into his cooking to make Indian-influenced Spiced Roast Potatoes with Yogurt and Mint, for example. Yet local references and recommendations, such as a tip that the best hummus may be purchased "at the Green Valley, just off the Edgware Road," will frustrate readers in the U.S. As George Bernard Shaw once said, the British and the Americans are two peoples divided by a common language. Sadly, much of this wonderful book is lost in translation, or lack thereof. (Oct.)