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Publisher's Summary

Toast is Nigel Slater's truly extraordinary story of a childhood remembered through food. In each chapter, as he takes listeners on a tour of the contents of his family's pantry (rice pudding, tinned ham, cream soda, mince pies, lemon drops, bourbon biscuits), we are transported.

His mother was a chops-and-peas sort of cook, exasperated by the highs and lows of a temperamental stove, a finicky little son, and the asthma that was to prove fatal. His father was a honey-and-crumpets man with an unpredictable temper. When Nigel's widowed father takes on a housekeeper with social aspirations and a talent in the kitchen, the following years become a heartbreaking cooking contest for his father's affections. But as he slowly loses the battle, Nigel finds a new outlet for his culinary talents, and we witness the birth of what was to become a lifelong passion for food. Nigel's likes and dislikes, aversions and sweet-toothed weaknesses, form a fascinating backdrop to this exceptionally moving memoir of childhood, adolescence, and sexual awakening.

A best seller and award-winner in the UK, Toast is sure to delight both foodies and memoir readers on this side of the pond, especially those who made such enormous successes of Ruth Reichl's Tender at the Bone and Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential.

©2003 Nigel Slater and 2004 Penguin Audio. All rights reserved (P)2003 HarperCollins Publishers Ltd., London, UK.

Critic Reviews

"His emotionally powerful story is sure to please anyone who enjoys superbly written, food-flavored biographies." (Library Journal)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall
  • S
  • Laguna Beach, CA, USA
  • 02-13-07

Nigel Slater is fabulous!

Didn't even know who Nigel Slater was when I bought the book (even though I am English!). A fantastic and nostalgic account of growing up in England. The ups & downs of life, very blunt and honest, very dry. I remember all the food so well. His descriptions were so clear, I could almost smell the rice pudding, the crumble; almost taste those mash potatoes, and especially the Walnut Whip!
I will be on the look out if he decides to make audio books of his other books. Brilliant!

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

A Good Bit of Toast

This book is a perfect meal for all foodies out there. The author of the book is also the reader. Slater imbues his text with personal emotion and great humor. I found myself wanting more and getting very hungry in the process. This is also a great culinary guide to British home style cooking in the 60's and 70's. Very engaging and fast read.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Roy
  • Beaumont, TX, United States
  • 07-31-09

Tasty Memoir

Nigel Slater relates a delightful coming of age story through food, meals, surviving his mother's cooking, and dishes of all kinds. It is a wonderfully light book divided into short chapters which can be tasted at will and bite-sized pieces.

I wish that Slater had developed some of those chapters and thoughts more thoroughly, however. Many of them just seem out of place within the book. They are not linked in anyway to what went before or what comes after. Some of the chapters didn't really reach a conclusion which was frustrating.

On the other hand, his style of writing is wonderful, the reading is great and very enjoyable. Approach this book as a series of recollections, nothing more, and you'll be rewarded.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Gary
  • Hanford, CA, USA
  • 04-17-08


When someone really loves you, they make you toast. Toast is Nigel Slater's favorite food and a great metaphor for anything warm, comforting and memorable - like this book. It's a great biography and introduction to good food. follow it up with Eating for England.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Ranges from Charming to Tedious

How did the narrator detract from the book?

The narration was absolutely grating from beginning to end. Like Michael Cunningham narrating his book The Hours, sometimes the author should NOT be asked to narrate.

Any additional comments?

I enjoyed the movie much better than the book. The writing is pleasant enough as Mr. Slater is relating his childhood memories, but once he went off to cooking school the listening was repetitive and tedious, and all throughout the narration marred the experience so much as to be painful at times. I also really didn't care about Mr. Slater's sexual experiences along the way. I'm not shocked by them in the least, but just felt they were inserted here and there meaninglessly instead of being central to the narrative. All in all I made it through but was glad when it was over.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Milk Toast

This is the first audiobook I have been unable to finish--and that's the best thing I can say about it. The author (who is also the reader) is petty, prissy, spiteful, self-absorbed, and ultimate a dreadful bore. This isn't about food. It's about the intimate history of Nigel Slater as a precious, yet unappreciated youth: how he despised milk and canned ham; how he hated his mother's cooking and his father's temper. Ho hum. Unless you have an overpowering fascination in the arcana of Nigel Slater, I would save my money and have a pleasant dinner instead.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Very enjoyable

I enjoyed this bittersweet memoir by one of Britain's best-known chefs. Each brief chapter is named for a different food. This is a disturbing and definitely NOT an idealized life, but I found myself fascinated. I enjoyed his perspective on food - very British.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful