August 8, 2010 1 Comment
Ah, Nigella Bites. If there was a moment this (and by this I mean the ludicrous acquisition of recipe books, the encyclopaedic knowledge of all terrestrial food TV, no matter how bad, and the cooking and photography of food for the very small and mostly anonymous little collective who follow this blog) all started, then it was the moment that I watched Nigella Lawson sandwich slices of mozzarella cheese in pieces of white, shop bought bread, fry it and create something far far more than the sum of its parts, on TV. Mozzarella in Carozza, Nigella Bites, 2001.
Nigella divides, and although I am not as smitten with her as I once was, in those days, Nigella’s devotees were very devoted. I believe at this point, Nigella had already written two modern classics – How to Eat and How to be a Domestic Goddess, which were both tremendous critical and popular successes, and this was her first TV series and book to accompany. It is a well trodden path now, for Ms Lawson and her ilk – TV series, book, TV series, book, TV series, book, a perennial pension plan. This book though, despite being attached to a brilliant, and award-winning show, is no How to Eat.
There are 10 chapters in this book, each with a handful of recipes in each chapter:
- All Day Breakfast
- Comfort Food
- TV Dinners
- Party Girl
- Rainy Days
- Slow-cook Weekend
- Temple Food
The recipes are all very tempting, with extremely easy to follow instructions and readily accessible ingredients. Highlights for me include Ham in Coca-cola, Chocolate Cloud Cake, Salt & Pepper Squid, Bream with Anchovies and Thyme and Southern-Style Chicken. There is some beautiful, inspiring photography. Nigella makes you feel than nothing in this book is unachievable, if you can read of it and conceive of it, you can make it. And, as always with Nigella the real strength is in the writing – friendly, approachable, authoritative and understanding. Good company over the sticky toffee pudding.
But for an rrp of £20, what do I want? I know that hardback recipe books rarely sell at their list price – certainly not on amazon, but if I bought it there today at its price of £11 odd, it would still be quite a big investment. In truth, I am probably not smitten enough to believe this represents value for money and I am somebody that actually uses her recipe books. Yes, there are some lovely recipes – but there are recipes for mashed potato in here, there are a LOT of photographs, there are pages at the end of every chapter for your notes. Of course, all hardback food books are expensive these days, especially if they have a famous name attached so it’s all relative, really but I can’t help thinking there’s a fair bit of blank space here for my cash.
On balance, this is a fine book. Maybe it has its faults and maybe it shouldn’t be on any classics list (unlike the linked programme) but it is an enjoyable read and a reliable guide. Implied permission from an absolute fox to eat fried chicken and a trough of pasta, supplied free of charge.