A celebrated food writer for the U.K.'s Observer, Nigel Slater spent his childhood obsessed with treats like fairy cakes and candy floss. And though he does provide a glossary for Yanks cupcakes and cotton candy, incidentally no translation is needed for this unassuming autobiography. At its sweet heart, Toast is a stirring tale of a troubled childhood, strung together by memorable meals both appetizing and revolting: Mum (who died when he was 9) mixing a Christmas cake, Dad force-feeding him eggs. Walnut whips were his dessert of choice while spying on secret lovers; medium-rare filet got him laid. And toast? It's Slater's ultimate comfort food; he adores its ''rough, toasted crust,'' the ''doughy cushion'' beneath, and its ''warm, salty'' butter topping. ''It is impossible,'' he declares, ''not to love someone who makes toast for you.''