Toast
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Toast

3.66 of 5 stars 3.66  ·  rating details  ·  3,333 ratings  ·  419 reviews
This is Nigel Slater's truly extraordinary story of his childhood remembered through food. Nigel's likes and dislikes, aversions and sweet-toothed weaknesses form a fascinating and often amusing backdrop to this incredibly moving and evocative memoir of childhood, adolescence and sexual awakening.
Paperback, 247 pages
Published October 1st 2010 by Fourth Estate (GB) (first published January 15th 2003)
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Cecily
Autobiographical account of middle class 60s/70s childhood, as defined and recalled by particular foods and his mother's poor cooking - except that it wasn't quite as bad as he makes out. As he is the same age as me, many of the typical foods of his childhood have strong memories for me too (surprise peas, angel delight, space dust).

It is subtitled "A boy's hunger", and his hunger is emotional at least as much as it is culinary. The result is sweet and sour.

There was a BBC TV adaptation in Dec...more
Fiona
A delightful little memoir written by Britain's greatest food writer. Written in bitesize chapters within a entire feast of words, Nigel Slater narrates with great honesty, wit and vividity his "story of a boy's hunger", his sexual awakening, his culinary journey through childhood and adolesence in sixties suburban England. 'Toast' is flavoured with Nigel's favourite tastes and teenage torments, decorated with a dollop of pain and seasoned with a great big pinch of passion for food and eating wh...more
Julie
This is another 3.5 star rating, but lacking the ability to "split hairs" on goodreads, I take it to the next level.

What is painfully apparent from the first chapter of this book is that Nigel Slater lacked nourishment from the day he was born -- and remained that way until he reached adulthood and found his own reason for being. He seems to have been born into a family which had refined the art of witholding what a growing boy needs -- proper nourishment in body or soul.

From the first, we are i...more
John
I'm giving this one a fourth star because Slater really does write well; however, he became progressively bitchier as the book went on. His world fell apart when his mother died when he was 10, which is understandable, though not for the usual reasons. He's fairly open about his ability to manipulate his parents, esp his mother ("Eventually, if I nagged persistently enough, they'd get me what I wanted ... just as I'd moved on to wanting something else usually (sigh)"). Life with his single fathe...more
Bethany
An enjoyable collection of memories linked to food.

I felt sad for Nigel as a young boy. He seemed to lack so much. Gladly, he was able to find happiness as an adult.

When I finished this book, I immediately began to read Orxy and Crake. I was amazed at how many similar themes the two books shared. Mother leaves at a young age. Father is too distracted with life to pay attention to young boy. Many memories around food.

I think the two books make an interesting pair.
Kirsti
About tapioca: "This is the most vile thing I have ever put in my mouth, like someone has stirred frog-spawn into wallpaper paste."

I love my library's used-book sale because I find random things I never would have heard of otherwise. This is a sad and funny memoir about growing up obsessed with food. At first I thought it was going to be a male, foodie version of Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life or A Girl Named Zippy . . . an entertaining memoir of a childhood in which nothing much scary or trag...more
Lynne Norman
I really wanted to like this book - I really did - as I generally like Slater as a food writer and presenter. But 'Toast' left a bitter taste - not what you want from a food-based memoir. The nostalgia felt heavy-handed, the humour (for instance the used condom incident) felt forced and cynical and Nigel - as portrayed by himself - came across unsympathetic and a little bit self-pitying. I also wondered at some of the memories he chose to share as, often, I felt he went well past the mark. I don...more
K.D. Absolutely
This book brought back childhood memories. Not that I was into hard-to-pronounce food names when I was growing up but reading the book made me think back of how it was when I was growing up in Quezon. There is a part in Nigel's memory as a boy when he kept on discussing the odor of their house or the people in it. Did our house in Quezon have an odor? Maybe the odor of the sand (as our house had no cement flooring then), beer and smoke (as my father had those vices), copra (just like the last ti...more
Jacinta Butterworth
"Toast is food writer Nigel Slater’s story of a childhood recollected through food. The book is divided into bite-size chapters named after the foods of post-war England (Arctic Rolls, tinned ham, Jammie Dodgers). I enjoyed the book’s unconventional format—it reminded me of a running joke about my sister, who has a terrible memory but can recite entire menus from restaurants we went to as kids. That said, there were times when the food-related memories in Toast felt a little shallow and the narr...more
Lee Sutter
Delicious coming-of-age story. Early childhood with delightful working atypical mom, who died young. Full of surprises, suspense, colorful characters, sex, perversion, evil step-mother, clueless father who feared his son was gay. All they had in common, other than love for the mother, was their sweet tooth. Way too much detail about candy bars.
I just read a The New Yorker article by Ian Parker about Edward St. Aublyn that there is such a glut on the publishing market in Britain about memoirs fr...more
Louise
It's stating the obvious, but Nigel Slater is a chef and a cookery writer, and for the most part this book is about food, and the parts that were just about food I thoroughly enjoyed. It was like taking a trip down memory lane reading about foods and sweets from my childhood that I'd forgotten all about - the ice creams you used to get from the ice cream man in slabs wrapped in paper for example, Birds custard and that horrible, horrible milk all primary school children used to be given.

The boo...more
Julie
I wouldn't say this was a bad book but it was very different from my expectations. I had expected something funny and tongue-in-cheek about growing up with a mother who couldn't cook.

It's actually much darker, exploring a childhood stained with death and a dysfunctional step family. There's also far too many references to various moments of sexual awakening. It's hard to see how these are relevant sometimes, and they're certainly much less enjoyable to read than the stories about food.

The main p...more
Sandra Lawson
Nigel Slater is my favourite cookery writer and TV food presenter. I refuse to call him a television chef, because he isn't, but he understands food and how different flavours and textures work together. His cookery books aren't at all fussy or precise and he makes it very clear that cooking is a very personal practice that can be varied as the cook wishes. But his recipes draw in the reader, make your mouth water, and make you want to rush off to the kitchen to start trying the dishes for yours...more
Caroline
Jul 22, 2012 Caroline rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Caroline by: Lari Washburn
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Veronica
If you grew up in Britain in the 60s and 70s, you can open this book at any page and encounter a Proustian moment. Spaghetti in those long blue packets, with instructions in Italian (it was the only kind of pasta you could buy). Grated Parmesan in carboard drums ("Daddy, this cheese smells like sick." "Yes, son, I think it must be off."). Steak Diane flambed at the table in smart restaurants. Aztec bars, sherbet lemons, Curly-Wurlies, licking the filling out of Walnut Whips, it's all there; Nige...more
Caroline Roberts
I really enjoyed the book but thought Slater, perhaps unintentionally, revealed himself to be something of a 'nasty piece of work'. His insinuation that his father was masturbating in the shed and his insistence that his step mother was trying to 'feed' his father to death (unlikely at best) were just two examples of 'memories' that reflected badly on the author. Following his fathers death he recounts the following in relation to his step mother:
'Joan fussed over me all week, making steak for m...more
Claudia Butwell
This book caught my eye while on holiday in a book shop and I decided to read it for some unknown reason (maybe it was the name?). I think I generally enjoyed the book although some of the themes puzzled me, it made me dig deeper to discover the roots of them.

This goes under the category of "a diary, autobiography or biography" as it is narrated by Nigel, the author, and how he looks back at his life through food. This intrigued me as it was a point of view I hadn't explored before and it entert...more
Hilary G
Oh dear! Hils on Toast sounds a bit like a recipe.

I wasn't immediately engaged by Toast, although I certainly related to the burnt toast in the opening line. Toast isn't really toast unless the whole flat is filled with thick, black, choking smoke [I have no sense of smell and a bad habit of wandering off to do something more interesting]. At first, the little chapters on food that is rather unexciting (Arctic Roll, Sherry Trifle…) was too much like snacks. You have one but it doesn't fill you u...more
Stephanie
I guess I love British celebrity chefs so much because I don't have to watch them on TV.
I hate all the German famous cooks because they're everywhere in the media around me, whereas somebody who only exist on the internet and in cookbooks can't get on your nerves.

So I had never really heard of Nigel Slater until about a week ago when I picked up one of his cookbooks in the library.
Even though it was a translated copy, I instantly fell in love with both his style of cooking (no-fuss, easy "recip...more
Melody
While I enjoyed the food part of this memoir, I didn't like the tone. I came to it with no prior knowledge of who Slater is, I picked it up primarily because I needed an audio book, my library had this available, and it was a memoir.

Slater lost his mum early on, his brother was much older and left home soon after, which left Slater alone with his dad for awhile. Then his dad finds a new woman with whom to share his life, and his son is resentful and angry and bitter about this still. She admitte...more
Michael
Nigel Slater has, through a unique perspective, provided the reader with an insight into his tormented years of childhood and adolescence. From rice pudding to toast, each of his food exposures is linked to vignettes of his formative years. His mother had little success in cooking anything, but he had a deep attachment to her which helped compensate for his father who clearly displayed his total disappointment with his son who had no interest or ability in sport. Given the early death of his mot...more
Ashleigh
Let me start by saying I adore Nigel Slater. I am a vegetarian and so I obviously have an opinion about his meat eating ways but read this anyway. Aside from that his prose on food are amazing. You feel every emotion conjured up by his childhood. You are there with him throughout all his memories. I have a couple of his cook books and they are exactly the same he has this way of making your mouth water with his vivid descriptions. This book is funny and sweet and sad and details his early memori...more
Alumine Andrew
I have mixed feelings about this autobiography. I read it because it is well regarded and has won awards but for me it was an unsatisfying read.
Nigel seems to have had a sad and lonely childhood. He loses his mum at a young age and as he was really close to her, he suffers well into his teens from this loss. His Dad marries the housekeeper and life just gets worse for Nigel as he has a distant relationship with his father and a dismal one with the stepmother.
The only ray of hope in Nigel's life...more
Heather Young
I wanted to like this book. I guess I sort of did, I did manage to finish it out of sheer will.
It wasn't the writing style, the author did a great job with that. I enjoyed reading all the unfamiliar names for British foods and descriptions of what his family ate. If I had known at the beginning of the book that a vocabulary glossary was at the back of the book, I wouldn't have spent so much time wondering what an 'ali baba' (laundry basket)was, along with a hundred other things.
My bigger probl...more
Frumenty
If this were food instead of a book then it would be aptly described as a snack, something light and tasty that wouldn't spoil your appetite for a real meal later on. It is composed of lots of little sections of just a few paragraphs with headings such as "Peas", "Sherbert Fountains", "Tinned Beans and Sausage" or occasionally something non-foodie such as "Another Funeral" - I'm not sure if this is just being cute or if the book was written for an audience that needs its portions cut up particul...more
Dan Jacobson
As a memoir, it has been the book always referred to me whenever I mention the idea of any biography. I cannot deny that Slater's approach to his writing is unique amongst biographers. He has avoided making this book simply a list of events that made up his life. He ignored his birthplace, his parents' birthplace, descriptions of his bedroom, his relationship with his pet dog, all that stuff. And thank god for that. It showed that Slater appreciated that in the grand scheme of things (ie his pat...more
Marian
Thoroughly enjoyable, although 7/8 of the book he is a young boy, and then his young adult hood seems rather rushed in the last 1/8 of the book. I would love for him to write another memoir where this leaves off.

This book totally makes you want British candy, although it makes you simultaneously horrified with British food of this time/class(parsley sauce and boiled gammon - blech).
Jenny Norris
I just kept on reading! I knew nothing of Nigel Slater's childhood in advance and found this story to be very touching. It jogged my memory of my own childhood such as eating sachets of Space Dust- '3 at a time was like putting your tongue on an electric fence'. Tinned ham covered in yellow jelly - yuk! Reminiscences aside, I enjoyed the writing, the short sections all headed by food titles. It is not a'poor me' misery memoir even though the step mother, Joan, makes your skin boil - particularly...more
Sonia Gomes
Heartbreaking when a little boy loses his mother at 10 and then has to compete with his stepmother for his father's affections. all this through gorgeous food.
Obviously, both Nigel and stepmother were so lonely that they had to feed the father to death.
I am glad Nigel is happy now, but it must have been very hard as a child.
Rebecca
I've never understood how someone so pursy-lipped could be such a passionate cook. But his miserable childhood might go some way to explaining the thin-lipped look. Somewhat bitter, and being the milk-hater I am, his description of the force-fed milk torture at school made me somewhat nauseous..
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Nigel Slater is a British food writer, journalist and broadcaster. He has written a column for The Observer Magazine for seventeen years and is the principal writer for the Observer Food Monthly supplement. Prior to this, Slater was food writer for Marie Claire for five years. He also serves as art director for his books.

Although best known for uncomplicated, comfort food recipes presented in earl...more
More about Nigel Slater...
Appetite The Kitchen Diaries: A Year in the Kitchen with Nigel Slater Tender: Volume I: A Cook and His Vegetable Patch Real Fast Food Nigel Slater's Real Food

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“Food has been my career, my hobby, and, it must be said, my escape.” 3 likes
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