In this book, Nigel Slater explores vegetables, and especially vegetable gardening. He’s a novice grower, yet ‘Tender’ is refreshingly different from the many other memoirs on the subject of ‘my war with slugs’. It’s primarily driven by a clear appreciation of the value of home-grown produce in the contemporary kitchen. Slater applies his very evocative, sensual writing style to such topics as tomato varieties – which ones he likes, and why – with impressive verve.
He’s an urban gardener and we follow his journey from weed patch to veg patch. There’s an aspirational element to this – if only we all had the time to fuss over seed catalogues, peruse garden tools, clip box hedges and move horse manure one bag at a time through the house.
And of course, most of us don’t have Monty Don to call on to pop around and give advice.
Yet it’s also an inspiring read; we are left feeling that if he can do it, so could we. After a short intro, each chapter of the book is devoted to a single vegetable, with growing tips that read much like his cooking tips. Even if you’re not a grower yourself, you’ll find the recommended flavour pairings and recipes very useful, especially if you’ve always wondered how to cook interesting dishes using the parsnips or leeks in your organic veg box (he covers more than 30 vegetables).
Beautiful, urban-rustic design and Jonathan Lovekin’s mouthwatering photography add to this exquisite book. One for all the gardeners, or just wannabe gardeners, living in London.
Guy Dimond, Time Out London Issue 2041: October 1-7 2009