Tuesday 17 October 2017

Food news: At my table

 

Nigella Lawson
Nigella Lawson

Katy McGuinness

'When I moved into my first home, before I did anything else, I bought a table, a table not just to eat on, but to live around." Nigella Lawson's new book, At My Table, is a celebration of home cooking. This is fitting because more than any other food writer these days, Nigella is the real deal - a proud home cook, definitely not a chef. And while so many cookbooks sell a story of happy gatherings of friends and family, I don't think I am alone in thinking that perhaps some of these authors may be talking the talk, rather than walking the walk. The stories often just don't ring true.

You just know from reading one of Nigella's books that she has a real life with food, rather than one made to look pretty for an Instagram feed, all style and no substance.

Learning to cook is a life skill - it's as essential as brushing your teeth for anyone wanting to live a civilised life. And while being able to feed oneself with healthy and nutritious food is one thing, being competent enough to invite friends to share a meal in your home is another, especially for those amongst us (me included) who did not grow up in households where learning to cook and bake was something that happened by osmosis. The American food writer MFK Fisher wrote that the three basic needs - food, security and love - "are so mixed and mingled and entwined, that we cannot straightly think of one without the others".

For Nigella, around the table is where these three things meet and when we invite people to sit at our table and eat the food that we've made for them, we are weaving memories amid assertions of love, friendship, hospitality and hope.

But before those memories can be woven, we must answer the fundamental question - what are we going to eat?

Thankfully, in her new book, Nigella answers the question by sharing recipes that don't require particular technique, dexterity or expertise (she writes, modestly, that she has none of these). Really, she seems to be saying, if you can read, you can cook. Amongst the recipes that caught my eye on a first pass are the Mung Bean Dal with Mint and Coriander Raita, Pork with Prunes, Olives and Capers, Spatchcock Chicken with Miso and Sesame Seeds, and a Ginger and Walnut Carrot Cake with an indecently lavish proportion of icing to cake. I also like the look of the Turmeric and Ginger Vodka.

At My Table, Nigella Lawson, Chatto & Windus, £26

Bites..

PUMPKIN TIME AT SABA

From Monday, October 23, until

Wednesday, November 1, chef Taweesak Trakoolwattana (aka Tao) of Saba will place pumpkins at the heart of his recipes to create Halloween-inspired dishes with a traditional Thai and Vietnamese twist, sabadublin.com.

WINE DINNER AT LUNA

Sara Cabrele, brand ambassador for Gaja Wines, is hosting a wine dinner at Luna on Wednesday, October 11 at 6.30pm. Head Chef Hugh Higgins will prepare a five-course dinner matched with Gaja’s premium wines. Tickets are €110pp, call 01 670 9009

(ext 2) to book.

JONATHAN SWIFT DINNER

On Sunday, November 26, in St Patrick’s Cathedral, fans of Jonathan Swift can join a 17th century candlelit dinner featuring dishes such as buttered eel and fricassee of chicken, with a talk on the gastronomic culture of the time by Dr Deirdre Nuttall. Tickets €78, jonathanswiftfestival.ie.

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