thank god for toast, by nigel slater. as much as i love ruth and calvin, it all makes me feel just a teensy bit inadequate. i’m still not sure what moules mariniere are, even though i could just look it up and they have to have been mentioned at least four times in each foodie book i’ve read thus far. and when i attempted spaghetti carbonara, i wasn’t terribly impressed. H (new shorthand for husband) wolfed it all down, but i was left feeling that i probably had done something wrong; what i made certainly can’t be the dish that puts calvin trillin on the warpath round thanksgiving.

toast, on the other hand, is a breath of fresh air. nigel reminds us that food isn’t only good because it tastes good. food can be good because of the memories we have of it, or the absurd tastes we develop (he rhapsodizes about candies that always taste vaguely stale, no matter how fresh) for no good reason, or simple because we decide it is good.

it’s nice to think that, if there is an almighty food critic out there watching my efforts, the glee with which we eat my attempts at cookery may make up for the pseudo-successes and outright failures. perhaps good intentions count too — if so, then i’m way ahead in the game.

plus, the frankness of this book is unbelievable. very few people can manage the tell-all style without becoming sordid. i’m not sure slater doesn’t dip into it a bit, but he does it with a matter-of-fact style that bypasses voyeurism and sleaze and takes you into the realm of childhood memory, something rarely stained with any awareness of impropriety. that got terribly wordy, but what i mean is: this book is great.