A Good Read
Eating for England – Nigel Slater
Subtitled ‘The Delights and Eccentricities of the British at Table’, this is an extended love letter to British food over the last forty years. If you have fond memories of sharing a box of Black Magic at Christmas or spooning jam over school rice pudding, then this is for you.
Anyone who owns one of Nigel Slater’s cookbooks will know that there is as much pleasure to be had from reading the recipes as there is from following them. He writes about food with passion, knowledge and honesty, admitting his fondness for Heinz Tomato Ketchup , Smarties and other non-gastronomic treats.
Here, he devotes short chapters (often no more than a paragraph or two) to a whole range of peculiarly British delights. Some are drawn from childhood memories, such as his father’s unsuccessful experiment with a coffee percolator (it ends up packed away next to the Christmas tree lights) or his mother’s blancmanges. Others are more contemporary and tells of the delight to be had from a visit to the fishmonger or the ritual of a Saturday farmers’ market. All are well written, funny and evocative.
Whether you read this from cover to cover, or simply scan the chapter headings for whatever takes your fancy, this is a perfect book for thinking about food – and despite Slater’s reservations the last chapter will probably send you out to the shops for a packet of Pink Wafers!
Why is Snot Green? – Glenn Murphy
Want to see a nine year old boy (or indeed, a thirty-nine year old boy) reading? Well, buy a copy of this book and that’s what you’ll get.
In fact, you’ll get more than that. Written by a member of staff from the Science Museum, this book answers those questions you’ve always wanted to ask – ‘Could you dig your way to Australia?’ (Come on, admit it – you tried to on the beach when you were seven), ‘Are people with bigger heads cleverer?’ and’ Why do we walk on two legs?’ for example – as well as some – ‘Do spiders have ears?’– that might never have occurred to you.
Each question is answered in conversational style, anticipating the reader’s responses and taking the explanation further. Whilst there is a fairly heavy concentration on the grosser side of science – poo, snot and gas feature heavily – there’s also plenty of technical terminology and you really do learn something new on every page. Even how to stop an ice-cream headache – so well worth a read for that alone!
By Kath Bennett