At My Table … well, Nigella’s Table

OK, so the new Nigella is in hand and I have been perusing it – haven’t had time to cook or bake from it yet but that will come soon. I’m seeing a lot of warming, comforting things – and though she claims to not have a theme for each book, warming, home cooking IS rather a trait of hers. Nothing fancy or fussy here. Just as well since fancy and fussy are not my style.

I read cookbooks like other people read fiction, so I spend a lot of time (particularly on rainy days) thumbing through them and a well-written, well-produced book gets a lot return visits on days such as that in this household. Happily, this is one of those books.

  • Say what you like about Nigella (she does tend to engender VIEWS), she does not allow stinting on finish quality. Properly sewn in pages make me a happy girl.
  • And an index – it infuriates me when cookbooks (and frankly most other non-fiction books) do not have indexes. This index is nicely done, in my formerly professional opinion – I mean, it’s no Joy of Cooking index but then what is*
  • Speaking of indexes, this is the first I’ve seen that has colour coding to indicate a recipe is suitable for various dietary restrictions. A nice touch – and an attractive and quickly accessible way to implement it. SO much better to have it in this central place – at the reference end of things – rather than on just each recipe which aggravatingly means people going page by page in search of what they want.
  • Also thought it was a nice touch to make a point of including a note on each recipe as to whether it is suitable for making ahead or storing, as well as notes for doing so where relevant.

My quibbles are wholly subjective, so your mileage may, and very likely, will vary

  • Font and colour preferences are subjective, of course and the isn’t a right or wrong. But I might have done with a different if slightly larger font, especially for the introduction which was printed in the book’s accent colour – which I would describe as terracotta.
  • I can’t say the photos thrill me – there’s nothing wrong with them, per se. They’re perfectly serviceable – they just seem a bit … by the book, so to speak. And a couple are cropped rather oddly.

I was reading some other reviews of the book and came across an interview with Nigella where she describes how she works in the kitchen with her assistant, home economist Hettie Potter as she works through recipes.

…  I cook and she writes down what I’m doing – and this is incredibly helpful, as it can be difficult to be spontaneous and take notes at the same time, though I do sometimes try and do that, as of course I’m often cooking when Hettie isn’t working.”

I have to say – I’d love to have someone writing things down as I mess with baking recipes. But I am afraid I’d drive people nuts with all my talking to myself and my taste in music. But hey – maybe that would appeal to someone – so when I start up with the baking experiments again, I may well call for volunteers.

Oh and it goes without saying (though I shall say in anyway) that I will be tuning in for the accompanying TV series on BBC 2 starting Oct 30. You can order the book for delivery now in the UK and you can pre-order it in the US (for an April release)

* (one day I shall tell the tale of my Joy of Cooking indexing experience but it’s a long and involved tale for another day).


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