Book Review: Tender by Nigel Slater

Back in Princeton, Dan and I visited one of the last remaining bookstores on earth. (Ok, that's a bit dramatic.) I think we spent an hour just perusing the shelves, Dan in the photography section, while I buried my nose in cookbooks.

The selection was absolutely overwhelming--hundreds of cookbooks, with thousands of recipes, and so few meals to cook. (We were eating in the dining halls.) I knew I didn't need any of them, but when I pulled this one off of the shelf, I was captivated.

I dragged Dan over to show him the dark, oversaturated photographs, paying homage to fresh, crisp, tender vegetables. Finally, somebody who understood!

The pages of this book are sectioned by vegetable--from your standard broccoli to the more unusual celeriac. Each section has a succulent description of the vegetable, graphic enough to make even the most ardent zucchini-hater reconsider, followed by planting tips for your backyard vegetable patch, and a collection of recipes.

Now, I know the English are famous for crappy cuisine, but I think Nigel Slater may be one of the few with some serious tastebuds. So far, we've made two recipes from the book, both of which were phenomenal. The remaining recipes look equally delicious, and I hope to attempt many soon.

Be warned that these are not recipes for the faint of heart--he is not shy with the heavy cream--or those new to the kitchen, as the instructions can be quite vague.

- Amazing photographs and descriptions, all of which make you want to eat more vegetables
- Creative and classic recipes, plus notes on how/when to eat them
- Great organization, and clear layout

- Many of the recipes rely on meat and fat, so this is not for strict vegetarians or people on a diet
- The recipes can be a bit vague in places (e.g. "cook as you see fit")

Overall, I'd recommend Tender to any carnivores trying to eat more vegetables, as well as anybody who's serious about growing their own vegetables. If you don't eat meat at least occasionally or garden, it's probably not worth the $25.

Let me know what you think by leaving a comment or emailing me at piquantprose [at] gmail [dot] com.

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