Community

Piglet Community Pick: Ripe

February 14, 2013

Read up on some of 2012's most-loved cookbooks, tested and reviewed by the one and only Food52 community.   

Today: Cristina Sciarra contemplates the lyrical prose and intuitive recipes of Ripe.

ripe

Ripe is a great cookbook. The recipes and musings tucked inside are an ode to the fruit grown in Nigel Slater’s London garden, similar to the way its companion volume, Tender, glorified the vegetables cultivated there. In respect to prose, Ripe is exquisite. At once literary, lyrical, and convivial, it's so enjoyable to read that it’s equally at home propped open in the kitchen and nestled amongst novels on the bedside table.
 
The book is organized into chapters by fruit, beginning with “Apples,” and landing nearly 600-pages later on “White Currants.” The recipes within each chapter are enticing and dependable and follow the seasons in a way that makes sense: winter fruits are braised slowly with game and sausages, while June strawberries are barely altered. For fall, a Cake of Roasted Hazelnuts, Muscovado, and Coffee tasted deeply, deliriously of all three. Jonathan Lovekin’s lush photographs are inspiring and complement Slater’s tone beautifully. 

But Ripe adds up to much more than the sum of its parts. The book is also a teaching aid: learn a thousand peculiarly named variations of apples, or all about the diverse history of quince. Ripe guides the reader to better cooking through example.
 
As much as Slater prizes first-rate ingredients, his recipes are never fussy or overly precise. He encourages tinkering, leaving the door open to flexibility, substitutions, and derivations. (A Cake for Midsummer, heady with milk and ground almonds, became a Cake for Deep Winter when nutmeg-stewed pears were substituted for apricots and raspberries.) Slater’s intuitive approach to cooking helps the reader, in turn, become a more intuitive cook. And it is this attitude that ensures Ripe’s status as a nearly endless spring of knowledge and inspiration.

19 Comments

luvcookbooks February 24, 2013
Great review, evocative descriptions of the recipes, I am going to get this one, too!
 
GregoryBPortland February 17, 2013
I've made it my mission to own all of Nigel Slater's wonderful cookbooks. Reading him makes me a better cook--a better reader.
 
Cristina S. February 18, 2013
I totally agree!
 
EmilyC February 15, 2013
Lovely review, Cristina! I'd love to have a copy of this book going into berry and stone-fruit season!
 
Cristina S. February 18, 2013
Thanks, Emily! I'm looking forward to cooking from this book in spring and summer, too!
 
mrslarkin February 15, 2013
Great review, Cristina. I received Ripe for Christmas, and it truly is inspiring, as are all of Slater's books. He is a brilliant writer. Can't wait to make the hazelnut muscovado cake!
 
Cristina S. February 18, 2013
It's so good! It's become my reliably impressive go-to.
 
boulangere February 14, 2013
Wonderful review. I thought Tender had no equal; I was wrong.
 
Cristina S. February 14, 2013
Ripe is just as good! I am also loving the second Kitchen Diaries.
 
Bevi February 14, 2013
Lovely review Christine. I can vouch for how delicious the cake was that you made for the party. I ordered this book and can't wait to find it in my mailbox.
 
Cristina S. February 14, 2013
Thanks! I can't wait for spring to continue cooking from the book.
 
fiveandspice February 14, 2013
Lovely review. Nigel Slater, swoon.
 
Cristina S. February 14, 2013
I know, I love his books!
 
Kitchen B. February 14, 2013
What a great review - I second intuitive cooking, thus experts build experts, and imbue them with confidence! I have some of Nigel's books and have surprised at how 'easy' they are to cook from because there isnt an elaborate show, or list!
 
Cristina S. February 14, 2013
I totally agree!
 
hardlikearmour February 14, 2013
Wow! I really want to pick this book up now, as in right this second. I feel a trip to Powell's is in order.
 
Cristina S. February 14, 2013
I remember Powell's fondly from my visit!
 
Kenzi W. February 14, 2013
Great review! This book is sitting on my bedside table now, actually, and I'm really happy about it.
 
Cristina S. February 14, 2013
:) I am onto Kitchen Diaries II and loving it!