Book review: Cook, Eat, Repeat by Nigella Lawson

04 February 2021 by
Book review: Cook, Eat, Repeat by Nigella Lawson

The title of Nigella Lawson's latest cookbook recognises what she describes as the "Sisyphean drudgery" cooking can be for those who resent time spent at the stove, but also highlights the book's intent to unravel and explore the meditative and soothing properties of repetitive cooking processes.

"It is precisely in those many mindless, mundane, repeated actions that cooking consists of, that allows it to be a means of decompression for so many of us," she writes, suggesting that acts such as peeling, chopping and stirring can be "a balm for the buzzing brain".

This collection of 150 recipes is both a cookbook and a collection of essays, with chapters separated into topics, occasions or her favourite ingredients rather than courses, including rhubarb; ‘a loving defence of brown food'; and some Scandi-inspired ideas for Christmas.

Nigella's writing is a culinary stream of consciousness that piques the senses and you hear her reassuring voice through her writing. She is also reassuringly flexible, suggesting alternatives where possible in ingredients or cooking techniques, and adapting old favourites with refreshing new perspectives. She also credits other writers, restaurants and chefs for inspiration and recipes, a refreshingly humble approach acknowledging both the benefits and importance of what she calls "honest borrowing".

More important than ever is her message that no one should feel guilty about what they eat or the pleasure they get from it, while addressing the topic of food waste with style and humour (I too have more breadcrumbs in my freezer than I could ever make use of). If you aren't yet bored of banana bread, she offers a recipe for banana bread with chocolate and walnuts to make use of bananas past their best, and also a banana skin and cauliflower curry I can't wait to try.

Cook, Eat, Repeat is expansive, practical and enjoyable and at the back are extensive storing and freezing notes as well as an index of vegetarian, vegan, dairy and gluten-free recipes.

Cook, Eat, Repeat by Nigella Lawson (Chatto & Windus, £26)

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