Cookbooks are a bit like clothing: most people only wear a small number of items even though their wardrobes are full; and only a few recipe books are taken regularly off crowded kitchen shelves. The popularity of cookbooks continues to grow and they must now entertain in ways that go beyond presenting 20 new recipes for cooking a chicken. The three prize winners of the 2018 Fortnum & Mason Food and Drinks Awards do just that. The food book winner is Nigel Slater’s The Christmas Chronicles (4th Estate), which, as the title suggests, is one to reach for if you are preparing for a northern hemisphere-style Christmas. But it will work equally well in SA’s winter months when soups and stews are most needed.

Slater’s cookbooks excel in a narrative style. Taking the form of diaries, he chronicles his thoughts about seasonal produce, his daily meals and food memories. The stories that introduce his recipes provide a peek into his life and home. Winter is Slater’s favourite season — h...

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