Eat Up! by Ruby Tandoh
Eat up! proclaims the title of Ruby Tandoh’s first food memoir, a love letter to the act and art of eating. The former Great British Bake Off star and columnist explores food’s different social roles: literally, with recipes, and also culturally, in our relationship to eating and appetite. Food is real, figurative, political, and most importantly yours, all at the same time.
The appeal of the book lies in Tandoh’s openness, in her charming and sympathetic voice. She tells of her family’s relationship to food and the conflicting feelings she had as a child towards that of her Ghanaian inheritance (relatable for any child of an immigrant whose lunchbox was the source of ridicule in school), laments contemporary food writing’s diet-culture and the gentrification of food by the middle-class, and emphasises the importance of feeding your heart, mind and body.
She effortlessly brings together old-school food writing, pop culture, and personal anecdotes, as she moves through a sprawl of influences from The Very Hungry Caterpillar to The Qu’ran to Sex and the City. Tandoh’s writing is so rich and charismatic that when a section stops for a quick recipe interlude, it’s an almost irritating distraction to get back to Eat Up!’s meaty prose. If you’ve ever felt ashamed of your hunger, cultural inheritance, or weird eating habits then this is the food book for you. Just don’t read it on an empty stomach. [Katie Goh]