I admit to not being the biggest Nigel Slater fan. I will certainly look at his tasty recipes in the Guardian or Observer but have avoided his writing and previous television programmes. It’s the Nigel/Nigella problem; flowery, over-the-top language that I try to steer clear of. Just tell me what ingredients to buy and how to make it taste bloody nice. That’s all I need. I am a simple creature. Do I really need to know that the bananas displayed in your huge kitchen/diner are ambrosial or the folding in of the lavender scented sugar takes you back to a time you fell asleep in your nanna’s airing cupboard? I am certainly not a fan of Gordon’s method: “ADD CHEESE. MIX. WHACK IT IN THE OVEN. DONE!” … just somewhere in between would be perfect. In my head, this means Jamie Oliver (without the ‘bruv’s or ‘pucker’s, innit?) but I know many who disagree.
I have warmed to Nigel with his recent programmes that focus on different themes (citrus or classic comfort food for example) or give advice on what main meal to cook on day one and magically use the leftovers for days two to five. A homely Sunday roast chicken can go a long way! This particular episode dealt with the topic of abundance. A glut, if you will. Mmmmmm, glut.
Nigel is pretty darned awesome at being uber middle class. No shots of budget supermarkets, it’s farmers markets and glorious greengrocers all the way. I’m torn between wanting to shout at the telly “NOT EVERYONE CONSIDERS REGGIANO PARMESAN A STORE CUPBOARD STAPLE THAT THEY CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT, Y’KNOW” and happy that he’s just being himself. I certainly can’t see our Nige prepping 2-for-a-fiver, ammonia burned chooks (and I wouldn’t want to) but if he can persuade people that paying an extra couple of quid on ingredients makes your food tastier and shows you how to stretch it out for a week, that can only be a good thing, right? Well, Jamie’s Channel 4 campaign failed so, there you go. Another discussion for another day I think.
Right, back to the matter in hand. A pretty sexy goats cheese frittata is rustled up and there is something almost horrific in the creation of his pork and blackberry dish. Get stuck in, mash up all the berries with your hands, thaaaat’s it, then smear it all over the meat – very Texas Chainsaw Massacre. He follows this up by saying “I happen to have this lovely duck breast sitting in my fridge” and proceeds to make a tasty looking meal by adding cannellini beans. I’m not sure which was in abundance here, beans or breast! I think Nigel may be more of a beans man.
In what appears to be his local greengrocers Nigel chats to Chloe, the proprietor, who has a glut of organic and free range loveliness complete with recipes scrawled on a blackboard above the till. Apparently people were wondering what can be done with kohlrabi, dragon fruit and celeriac. No, me neither! As a thank you (for what, I’m not sure), he turns up at her flat to make dinner. Wow, that’s really generous of you. Ah, OK, you’re raiding poor old Chloe’s cupboards asking “Oooh, can I use this? How about this?” He may as well have said that he was going to make the ingredients sing in a way that Chloe never could.
They shoot the breeze for a while and our lady grocer explains that “people are always willing to share with you what they’re doing with their veg”. Really? I doubt they’re willing to share everything 😉
So, in summary, Nige can be unctuous, often erudite, never superfluous to requirements and always grandiloquent – and we wouldn’t have him any other way.