Close personal friends of mine that know me well will tell you that I absolutely love to read. I am thankful for my parents, who both love to read, as I feel as though this is a past-time handed down to me by them through simply observing their love of books and reading.
Indeed, the home I grew up in had a fantastic library spanning several floor-to-ceiling shelves of every kind and genre of book. What I have discovered more recently, however, is that when I read cookery writing, my love of reading is married in evangelical bliss with my love of food.
In February 2019, I was lucky enough to attend “An Afternoon with Nigella Lawson” at Sydney’s Opera House with my Mother and friends. The event was a celebration of twenty years since Nigella Lawson‘s debut cookbook-cum-memoir was released, as well as a tribute to the culinary powerhouse the legendary Nigella Lawson is.
So, it was in line for a book signing (my copy of “At My Table” by Nigella released in 2018 in hand ready for her to sign) that I made the impulsive purchase of “How To Eat” as well. It was a dream to share a brief moment with Nigella as she signed both books.
Below, I share with you my thoughts on “How To Eat”.
“How To Eat”
by Nigella Lawson (1998)
Nigella Lawson’s 1998 culinary classic, “How To Eat” is the pinnacle of modern western food tradition. This book is so much more than a recipe book – it is a philosophical inquiry into eating, as well as a collection of experiences.
Nigella’s voice is encapsulating, funny, comforting and warm. Indeed, this reading experience is as good as if Nigella herself were with you in your home, sharing a glass of wine or a meal. Nigella’s narration style takes on the very best qualities of the maternal grandmother, mother, sister, aunty and friend we all grew up with – the one(s) who taught us to cook.
The writing is simple, but at the very same time vastly descriptive and sensory which leaves the reader’s mind full of imagination and excitement about the possibilities of cooking. All the while, Nigella’s whit, sarcasm and dry humour made me laugh and made it easy to relate to her on a personal level.
This book is Nigella’s self-professed memorialisation of her late Mother and sister, to whom Nigella pays homage and respect through recipes which reminded her of their memory and presence in her life. In this way, “How to Eat” gives its readers an intensely nostalgic experience by reminding us all that food is a sensory experience around which family life revolves. Put simply, this book confirms the importance of family rituals celebrated around and amongst food. Nigella’s first ever literary publication is as good as any of her subsequent offerings and it left me deliriously longing to be back at the dinner table of my childhood family home.
Some memorable quotes from the book are reproduced here to give insight into the charming voice that carries this collection of words:-
“As I work in the kitchen at night, or at the weekend, filling the house with smells of baking and roasting and filling the fridge with good things to eat, it feels, corny as it sounds, as if I’m making a home“.
“I love the absorbing satisfactions of the kitchen. For me, the pleasure to be got from cooking, from food – in the shop, on the chopping board, on the plate or in the pan – is aesthetic. I think it’s that I find food beautiful, intensely so.”
Whether you have cooked your whole life or are only just getting started, this book will be your food Bible. You will pour through it time and again, reach for it to remind yourself of a recipe or a technique, or return to it simply for another reassuring dose of its warmth and familiarity.
I loved every line and I know this book will always have a special place in my home, on my shelf and in my heart.
– Domestic Dave