The other day I was moving some books around in the living room bookcases when I saw the cover of a book that I had not thought about for a long time — a book that I had bought in England on my last trip there in 2007.

It was a book that I saw on a bookstore shelf that I thought I would like. And I had for a few days, and then it was just put on the shelf and forgotten. “Eating for England” by Nigel Slater was not a cookbook at all; it was a book about English eating.

On the cover was this introduction by William Leith, a writer for the London Evening Standard newspaper: “For Slater, a meal isn’t just nourishment, it’s memory, nostalgia, excitement and heartache. ... A wonderfully comforting book.”

Who is this cookbook author who sees a good meal as a “memory...excitement, and (even) heartache?”

NIGEL SLATER is the author of a collection of best-selling books, including the classics Real Fast Food and Real Cooking, and the award-winning The Kitchen Diaries.

He has written a much-loved column for the Observer for over a decade.  His autobiography, “Toast: The Story of a Boy’s Hunger,” won six major awards, including the British Biography of the Year.

And what does England think of this “cookbook” writer?

“Slater is one of our most talented cookery writers.” Daily Telegraph

“This is food writing with a master chef.  As ever, Slater is also very funny ...”  The Times

Here is an example of his writing. I picked it because a scone is becoming much more a part of our menu. We now can find it without any trouble in our own “big” grocery store, and it is becoming a part of Kentucky afternoon tea time:


You are faced with a plate of scone, a pat of butter, a dish of jam, and a pot of clotted cream. This being Britain, it follows that there must be a right and a wrong order in which to dress your scone.

You can have either butter or cream, never both. At least not when anyone is looking. It is generally accepted that the jam goes on first, followed by a teaspoonful of cream. Others insist it is the other way round. Dare I suggest it really doesn’t matter?

At a tea shop or hotel you will inevitably get strawberry jam, though many would say raspberry is better. At home I would for blackcurrant or damson every time.

“Eating for England”

Remember, “For Slater, a meal isn’t just nourishment, it’s memory, nostalgia, excitement, and heartache ...”

What is “Eating for Kentucky”?

Who will, in one paragraph, tell us what it is?

Joe Rhinehart can be reached by e-mail at

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