Another double serving today and I am dishing up some bookish deliciousness for you! I didn’t deliberately read these two books at the same time but I did adore them both and it seems so natural that they are served up here together. (Do you get where my subtle hints are going? Do you, eh eh?!)
Yes dear reader, the focus here falls on food, glorious food! We have some lip smackingly brilliant YA and a manifesto on all things stomach bound to feast upon. As a person who loves to cook, feed people, eat, and on the other hand also fights to have body confidence and often fails, both books were eagerly picked up by myself. Let’s tuck in shall we?
It seems horribly reductive to introduce our first author, Ruby Tandoh, solely on her Bake Off competitor credentials, she has written two wonderful cook books ‘Crumb’ and ‘Flavour’, and now has brought us a third read musing on everything delicious, ‘Eat Up!’
A meditation on appetite and what food means to use, the memories we can have tied up in it and the comfort and nourishment it can bring to us is heralded from every page. What really drives Ruby is her passion over making food less complicated than we’ve currently forced it to be. Your food choices should not come with a side portion of guilt, the ingredients you use are not a moral signpost, ‘clean eating’ can be a bloody harmful concept. To each their own, what they enjoy, what they can afford, what works for them. Before you judge somebodies microwave meal walk a mile in their shoes and then eat their dinner or something like that!
About to follow Ruby’s advice…
I learned a lot from the information Ruby pulls together here (note I call her Ruby, not using her surname like most authors, I think she feels like my friend after reading this, somebody I’ve had a good, solid chat with) she never lectures or prescribes a ‘right’ way. I did learn that you will absorb more nutrients from food that you are enjoying than the equivalent in say liquid, mushed up form. The pleasure in actually eating is necessary for our body.
There are discussions on fat shaming, disordered eating, regional and international food, and delightfully the food references used in culture and what they are used to mean. I will never watch that scene in When Harry Met Sally in the same way again. Scattered throughout are recipes from Ruby, all written as if a friend is chatting you through the cooking, rather than a regulated list and bullet point instructions.
I found it to be a thought provoking read, but also one that made me laugh and provided comfort, it also resulted in me getting a giant doughnut due to the intense cravings it provoked, and any book that results in a doughnut is a winner in my eyes!
….I did her proud
Eat Up! By Ruby Tandoh £12.99 (Serpent’s Tail)
Second course now and I bring you a YA read that I gobbled up. Author Laura Dockrill brings us ‘Big Bones’, with an illustration of a gorgeous young women on the front with the kind of thighs that would make Beyoncé proud. Dockrill is not only author but also a poet and illustrator, who graduated from the Brit School of Performing Arts along with her pals Kate Nash and a little known singer called, um, Adele! Her last two books, Lorali and Aurabel, were huge hits with myself and my bookish friends.
‘Big Bones’ is the story of Bluebell, a young woman who knows what she wants, and what she wants is to leave school and get on an apprenticeship to traumas a full time barista at the cafe she currently works part time in.
When an asthma attack results in her mother taking her along to see the nurse she is forced to have conversations she would rather not. It comes as no surprise to her when the nurse pronounced her overweight, Bluebelle knows she is bigger than society considers acceptable, but she feels healthy and she loves how she looks. When the nurse starts reeling off possible health side effects Bluebelle could encounter because of her weight, her mum gets upset and a row ensues. In the end deals are struck, when the nurse encourages gym attendance and the completion of a food diary over a 6 week period, her mum consents to her withdrawal from school if she will do these two things.
What follows is the diary itself, which Bluebelle separates into sections using different foods as headings, then giving us her opinion on them, the perfect cheese toastie to the joys of millionaires shortbread. An unexpected result is that she begins to use the diary to spill the details on, well, every single thing that’s going on in her life. We read about her little sister who has boundless energy, her irritating boss and rather handsome colleague, and her warring parents as they deal with a possibly temporary, possibly not separation. As different challenges come her way, food is a constant pleasure and companion, until a frightening event takes place that manages to sully how she sees both herself and what she eats.
What kind of size cake do you call this?!
It was so deeply refreshing to read about a young woman who had utter confidence in how she looked, seeing sexy in muffin tops and belly rolls. It shows how ingrained it is, for me at least, to be in a space where we expect young women to hate how they look, as I found myself continually having my head pulled up bu this novel surprise. Bluebelle is a pleasure to spend time with, and the story of her family, the navigation of the ‘from child to adult’ years, and be relationship with food are all equally absorbing. Pull up a seat at her table and tuck in!
Big Bones by Laura Dockrill £6.99 (Hot Key Books)
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What books have the best foody memories for you? Let us know in the comments below, and until next time…