Sunday, 25 March 2018

Nigel Slater: The Christmas Chronicles

I have daffodils in a vase on my table.  I have Easter Eggs waiting to be freed from their foil wrapping and to be eaten.  The clocks have gone forward.  The weather presenters are talking about Spring Equinox.   And this is one of my favourite times of year.

However, I'm still reading a certain book by a certain author who has made me fall back in love with winter.  And that’s Nigel Slater, with last year’s offering of The Christmas Chronicles.

It’s all a bit topsy-turvy, me writing about winter as spring is trying its hardest to break through, but with the recent bouts of Beastly named weather storms, it has felt that winter has been elongated somewhat and so I’ve felt justified in continuing to read Nigel’s tales of mid-Winter bliss.

I guess I’ve taken winter for granted somewhat over the years, judging it on face value of dark days, biting weather, the stress of fighting with Christmas crowds, it’s easy to wallow in the negatives, but Nigel’s wordsmithery has made me see the beauty of what winter offers and I’ve thought – he’s right!  It is wonderful!

The Christmas Chronicles follows the rhythm of a diary, each day from November to February is written with recipes, anecdotes, memories, fables, fairy tales, traditions (both widespread and Nigel’s own) for that particular point in winter, with a good measure of history and fact too.  As the days roll further into December, for example, there is plenty written about the preparations for Christmas.  From Germanic Christmas Markets (their stollen, nutcracker soldiers, magical decorations), to the purchasing of ingredients for the ideal Christmas cake to the art of elegantly wrapping gifts through to enjoying the serenity of a crackling fire and candlelight.  At other times, it is about what is around you, he revels in the joys of country walks under arctic blue skies and the grinding crunch of footsteps over freshly fallen snow.

Yes!  I love all those things too and deep down, I always have.  His well-written, fabulously articulated prose has helped me realise this.  So thanks Nigel.

The Christmas Chronicles will now join my festive literary repertoire of go-to books for old favourite recipes and inspiration when yuletide rolls around again. 

But as we nudge the parameters of Easter, I'm happy to let spring and summer bask in their glory first, they've waited a long time to visit us again.  And rest assured, winter will be here again before you know it and it'll be time to dig out The Christmas Chronicles

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