#12 Books of Christmas - The Christmas Chronicles by Nigel Slater
Welcome to Day 5 of #12BooksofChristmas.
If you've missed any of the previous #12BooksofChristmas, I've linked them all at the bottom of this post. Today is a very special book for me to review. I hope you love it too.
"This is the story of my love for winter, the scent of fir and spruce, ghost stories read with a glass of sloe gin, and beeswax candles with shadows dancing on the ceiling" - Nigel Slater
When I started to put together my list of titles for the 2020 #12BooksofChristmas, I knew I wanted to include a book about food. Food forms such an important part of Christmas, we all have memories of a great Christmas meal, and possibly even a bad one, but food is something that becomes interwoven with our own histories. The obvious choice was 'The Christmas Chronicles' by Nigel Slater.
For those of you unfamiliar with Nigel Slater, I can tell you he is a food writer for The Observer newspaper and has presented a number of food and cookery programmes. Instead of the usual take 15 ingredients, combine and bake, Nigel weaves food into his day to day life and this feels like a snapshot into someone's week, complete with tasty and delicious food that acts as a balm for the soul. In his programme we see his day, a visit to a delicious patisserie or picking up a tasty joint of meat from a cherry cheeked butcher. This food is then lovingly made into a simple and comforting meal. His recipes are never over complicated or have difficult ingredients to source, but are testimony to the nourishment of body and mind that food brings.
The Christmas Chronicles are laid out as a diary starting on the 1st November and ending on 2nd February. As well as providing a snapshot into Nigel Slater's life in the run up to Christmas, it provides the history and folklore behind many of our favourite winter and Christmas traditions, advice on the best places to buy candles and is packed to the gills with recipes to cover any winter scenario. The author also talks about many of his personal traditions such as starting his new book on Christmas afternoon once the main meal has been eaten and the washing up has been done. It is packed full of visits to foreign countries, Christmas markets aplenty and a sabbatical visit to Japan in February. I was delighted to read about a coffee shop in Vienna and then realised that I had been there! The coffee shop had some of the most beautiful cakes I have ever seen sitting alongside copious amounts of sachertorte and dishes of swirling cream.
The physical book itself is beautiful; A dark grey linen cover with copper gold foiling, the photography inside is delicate especially the snowy scenes. Reading this book is a reminder to slow down and savour whatever you are doing. Remember to enjoy Christmas with all of the 5 senses. It is a humble book, the recipes are delicious and this would make a super present for any 'foodie' you may have in your life.
Food forms such a large part of our memories and this is something that Nigel Slater captures beautifully. I remember Boxing Day as a child as it was one of the few times I saw my father make a meal. It was always home cooked chips (cooked in the chip pan which every family had in the 1970s!), corned beef slices and marrowfat peas with pea gravy. After the excesses of Christmas Day we always looked forward to it. It always ended with some of my mother's delicious sherry trifle. My mum is the world's best trifle maker, although Nigel Slater's version certainly looks delicious.
This book is beautiful, delicious recipes, Christmas treats and traditions all bundled up in grey linen goodness. It is a pause in a busy few weeks and much needed. See you tomorrow.
Missed a #12BooksofChristmas ?
Day 1 - Winter Street by Elin Hilderbrand
Day 2 - The Box of Delights by John Masefield
Day 3 - The Christmas Lights by Karen Swan
Day 4 - Hercule Poirot's Christmas by Agatha Christie