Toast, the story of cookery writer Nigel Slater’s difficult 1960s childhood, is now playing at The Other Palace Theatre.
Here he talks about food and growing up.
Young and going through a tough time? Try putting pen to paper, says Nigel Slater. The experience is cathartic.
His award-winning memoirs Toast: The Story of a Boy’s Hunger have been adapted for the stage.
Now you can not only see the show at The Other Palace theatre, Victoria, until the beginning of August. You can actually smell and even taste the food of the ’60s!
The “multi-sensory” play charts Slater’s miserable childhood after his mother died when he was just 9 years old.
But the food of the era – Artic Roll, Angel Delight and burnt toast – provide the backdrop for his memories.
Put pen to paper
Slater says writing about his experiences was hugely beneficial for him. He advises young people going through difficult times to do the same.
“Even if it is just a few notes. Things become clearer when you see them in black and white and it might help them to see a way through it.
“To see that nothing is permanent and situations can and probably will change for the better.
“Writing your story down makes you realise you own it, and that you really can change your own destiny,” he said.
Slater’s mother died of asthma in 1967, and in the story he tells how he had to contend with a lack of love from his father.
Then Nigel’s father married the family’s former cleaner who was also a brilliant cook.
But the boy’s relationship with his step-mother turned into a war of attrition. Battle lines were drawn amid the frothy peaks of the lemon meringue pies she excelled at.
Already a keen cook himself, Slater tells how food provided a solace for him.
Now, looking back at his career as a writer, journalist and broadcaster, he is still thrilled by the success of his autobiography.
“It seems to have touched people in many different ways,” he said.
Giving his step-mother credit
He also admits that his feelings towards his late stepmother have mellowed.
“I hadn’t taken on board how difﬁcult it was for her to leave her family, including two of her daughters, and start a new life with my father,” he said.
And his food inspiration today?
“It is mostly down to constant curiosity and appetite. I am almost permanently hungry.
“Not in a gluttonous way – far from it – but I want to taste everything.
“I’d hate to get to the end of my life and realise I had missed something delicious,” he said.
Book tickets for Toast at The Other Palace theatre here.
For the full interview in the Victoria Times read here.