Hungry – Grace Dent

Published by: Mudlark/HarperCollins
Pages: 304
Date released: 29/10/2020
Date read: 03/04/2021

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.

Let me start by saying you don’t need to understand food and restaurants at a molecular level to enjoy this book by renowned food critic Grace Dent. You don’t even need to have watched programmes such as Masterchef to enjoy this book. Obviously it does help if you know who she is, but I still think you’d love it even if you were going in blind.

I’ve only recently started watching Masterchef, but Grace Dent is already my favourite person on this, and most other, TV shows. She’s so elegant and classy but so real and humble. She seems like the kind of person you could eat a 5-course high-dining meal with before going to the pub for pints of beer with chips from the local chippy. She seems to be an all-round amazing woman.

Hungry tells us her story right from a child in Carlisle, through to her career in London, starting at teen magazines before working her way up to where she is today, all whilst balancing her own relationships and family. There are moments that are hard to read, where you really feel for her – as a child and as an adult – but she’s not after sympathy. She’s after realism and recognition from the readers. There is a 20 year age difference between myself and Grace, and as such I did not grow up and experience life and food in the 70s and 80s like she did, and yet everything she speaks about, I can relate to. There’s a universal experience all British schoolgirls seem to go through and she manages to depict this perfectly.

If I had to pick out one criticism is that I wish there were more chapters dedicated to her life as a food critic. There’s a lot of history about her childhood and family which is great, but I wanted there to be more of a feast (pun totally intended) when it came to reading about her food critic career.

Before I read this, I wanted to be Grace Dent, and I do so even more now. I want to be her when I grow up (shh, don’t tell anyone I’m technically already grown up!)

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