Wednesday 23 December 2020

Hungry by Grace Dent @gracedent #Hungry @mudlarkbooks @HarperCollinsUK #BookReview #AMemoirOfWantingMore


From Frazzles to Foie Gras: a memoir of wanting more.

From an early age, Grace Dent was hungry. As a little girl growing up in Currock, Carlisle, she yearned to be something bigger, to go somewhere better.

Hungry traces Grace’s story from growing up eating beige food to becoming one of the much-loved voices on the British food scene. It’s also everyone’s story – from treats with your nan, to cheese and pineapple hedgehogs, to the exquisite joy of cheaply-made apple crumble with custard. It’s the high-point of a chip butty covered in vinegar and too much salt in the school canteen, on an otherwise grey day of double-Maths and cross country running. It’s the real story of how we have all lived, laughed, and eaten over the past 40 years.
Warm, funny and joyous, Hungry is also about love and loss, the central role that food plays in all our lives, and how a Cadbury’s Fruit ‘n’ Nut in a hospital vending machine can brighten the toughest situation.

Hungry by Grace Dent was published in hardback on 29 October 2020 by Mudlark / Harper Collins. I saw Damian Barr share an extract from this book on Twitter and after reading that, I bought a copy for myself. 

I have long been a fan of Grace Dent. Masterchef is one of my favourite TV programmes and I adore the 'critics round'. When I see that it's Grace Dent in one of the critic's chairs, then it is extra special, oh and if Jay Rayner is in one of the other chairs, my day is complete!

I have enjoyed every single page of this well-written, funny, emotional and completely honest memoir. I admire the author's ability to make the most mundane and ordinary of households sound like such an adventure. Grace Dent is a few years younger than me, but it really feels that time didn't move quite so fast back in the 70s and 80s, and I could relate to her adolescent experiences so much. 
I live in the North, not as far North as Grace did, but it's the North - I won't be told otherwise! I remember the advent of the huge supermarkets; the excitement of the 'Whoops' yellow reduced price sticker (I still get that buzz today!). I remember microwaves being introduced (ours was second hand and my mother didn't allow us to walk past it whilst it was cooking .... in case we radiated our insides!)

Grace Dent was a determined young woman, she'd been brought up within a family of workers and she made sure that she got where she wanted to be. She's not ashamed to say that she accepted most jobs that were offered to her, despite the humour, it is so clear that she worked long and hard to get where she is today. 

This is not just Grace's story of how she made her career though. It is also an emotional and often quite heart-breaking account of how her family has dealt with her father's illness. From the beginning, when all of them just thought Dad was a bit grumpy, ate too much Cadbury's Fruit n Nut and was obsessed with his daily newspaper. Right through to the very end, where Dad often no longer recognises them, where he sits in a room, skeletal and not interested in food anymore. It's devastating. Grace was her father's 'only little girl' ... and that phrase hides yet another story! 

I really liked Grace Dent before I read her book. Now I think I actually love her. I flew through this one, I felt as though I was there with her. It's honest and highly entertaining. I'd really like some more! 

Grace Dent is a broadcaster, author and columnist. is restaurant critic for the Guardian and one of Britain's best-known voices in food.

She has been a regular face on MasterChef - in all its formats - since 2013.

Grace currently presents the multi-award-winning show The Untold on BBC Radio 4 and What We Were Watching for BBC Four. She is a familiar face on shows such as Have I Got News For You, Pointless and Great British Menu. Grace has published nine books for young adults and for several years wrote ‘Grace and Flavour’ for the London Evening Standard as well as a popular Independent column.

Twitter @gracedent

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