Ruby Tandoh is one of my favourite people on the internet, so I’m sad she’s taking a break at the moment (although I completely get it.) A few years ago, I tweeted that I had borrowed her book, Flavour, from the library and that D and I had made the chocolate cake from it- he completely covered it in Star Wars sprinkles. She offered to send us a copy of the book and from then, D has completely been in love with her. (Every time we make that cake, heavy with whatever sprinkles I can rescue from the back of the baking cupboard and thrown on with joyful abandon by D and put a photo on IG, she will like it.) Honestly, Flavour is our favourite cookery book in general and it was the gateway to Ruby’s Eat What You Want philosophy.
Eat Up! follows this line of thought- that our thinking about food is quite frankly weird and messed up, and that we should enjoy food without judgement. She’s critical of the elite view of what constitutes ‘good’ food and the fact that it is used to cast judgement on those who are too poor, too time-poor or too ill to eat in a socially ‘acceptable’ way. This is something I can understand; we didn’t have much money growing up and there were other issues at play, that meant that the food we ate would have been considered ‘bad’ and ‘beige’; this diet has affected me into adulthood (there is nothing greater than a crisp sarnie, if you’re in the mood. I’m about to have Heinz tomato soup with potato waffles that I’ll toast in the toaster) and the enjoyment that I get from revisiting those foods is nothing to be ashamed of. This book is part-memoir, as well as a manifesto to not feeling guilty about food, but being sensible and understanding that the enjoyment of food is just as important as the nutrition that we benefit from. As well as this, there are a range of simple, tasty recipes that are designed to be easy and tasty- although I borrowed this from the library, I’m tempted to buy it so that I have these to hand all the time.
We live in a society where food is fetishised and demonised in equal measures; where eating disorders are very much an issue, but there is not enough funding to deal with them adequately; and where the gap between the rich and the poor is widening to Victorian levels. What we eat is political. And when the world is so scary and everything feels like it might go nuclear at any moment, surely we should embrace the good things in life- including food.