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Think about that first tickle of hunger in your stomach. A moment ago, you could have been thinking about anything, but now it's thickly buttered marmite toast, a frosty scoop of ice cream straight from the tub, some creamy, cheesy scrambled eggs or a fuzzy, perfectly-ripe peach. Eating is one of life's greatest pleasures. Food nourishes our bodies, helps us celebrate our Think about that first tickle of hunger in your stomach. A moment ago, you could have been thinking about anything, but now it's thickly buttered marmite toast, a frosty scoop of ice cream straight from the tub, some creamy, cheesy scrambled eggs or a fuzzy, perfectly-ripe peach. Eating is one of life's greatest pleasures. Food nourishes our bodies, helps us celebrate our successes (from a wedding cake to a post-night out kebab), cheers us up when we're down, introduces us to new cultures and -- when we cook and eat together -- connects us with the people we love. In Eat Up, Ruby Tandoh celebrates the fun and pleasure of food, taking a look at everything from gluttons and gourmets in the movies, to the symbolism of food and sex. She will arm you against the fad diets, food crazes and bad science that can make eating guilt-laden and expensive, drawing eating inspiration from influences as diverse as Roald Dahl, Nora Ephron and Gemma from TOWIE. Filled with straight-talking, sympathetic advice on everything from mental health to recipe ideas and shopping tips, this is a book that clears away the fog, to help you fall back in love with food.


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Think about that first tickle of hunger in your stomach. A moment ago, you could have been thinking about anything, but now it's thickly buttered marmite toast, a frosty scoop of ice cream straight from the tub, some creamy, cheesy scrambled eggs or a fuzzy, perfectly-ripe peach. Eating is one of life's greatest pleasures. Food nourishes our bodies, helps us celebrate our Think about that first tickle of hunger in your stomach. A moment ago, you could have been thinking about anything, but now it's thickly buttered marmite toast, a frosty scoop of ice cream straight from the tub, some creamy, cheesy scrambled eggs or a fuzzy, perfectly-ripe peach. Eating is one of life's greatest pleasures. Food nourishes our bodies, helps us celebrate our successes (from a wedding cake to a post-night out kebab), cheers us up when we're down, introduces us to new cultures and -- when we cook and eat together -- connects us with the people we love. In Eat Up, Ruby Tandoh celebrates the fun and pleasure of food, taking a look at everything from gluttons and gourmets in the movies, to the symbolism of food and sex. She will arm you against the fad diets, food crazes and bad science that can make eating guilt-laden and expensive, drawing eating inspiration from influences as diverse as Roald Dahl, Nora Ephron and Gemma from TOWIE. Filled with straight-talking, sympathetic advice on everything from mental health to recipe ideas and shopping tips, this is a book that clears away the fog, to help you fall back in love with food.

30 review for Eat Up: Food, Appetite and Eating What You Want

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sian Lile-Pastore

    Wasn't sure I would like this purely based on reading the odd tweet by ruby! Was thinking she was anti-vegan, and wasn't sure about a slim person telling us that we can eat what we want. But I was completely wrong, and she addresses those issues - and she's completely fine about veganism by the way! I really enjoyed her writing and how she discusses and examines eating disorders, classism and race in regards to eating what you want. This was way more than I thought it would be and anyone with Wasn't sure I would like this purely based on reading the odd tweet by ruby! Was thinking she was anti-vegan, and wasn't sure about a slim person telling us that we can eat what we want. But I was completely wrong, and she addresses those issues - and she's completely fine about veganism by the way! I really enjoyed her writing and how she discusses and examines eating disorders, classism and race in regards to eating what you want. This was way more than I thought it would be and anyone with even the slightest interest in food (or who has ever considered dieting) should read it.

  2. 5 out of 5

    anaïs

    This is beautiful writing by Ruby Tandoh not just about food but bodies, culture, class, and feelings. It has been such a wake up call to struggle less with what I eat and slow down to be kinder to myself. There's a core of kindness and lack of judgment here that is so refreshing when it comes to food writing.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kirsty

    Anyone who knows me will know what a huge fan of food I am. I adore cooking new recipes, playing around with flavours, and visiting new restaurants. It comes as no surprise, then, that I have wanted to read Ruby Tandoh's Eat Up!: Food, Appetite and Eating What You Want ever since it came out. Many will remember Tandoh from The Great British Bake Off, of which she was a contestant in 2013. In her insightful introduction, Tandoh gives her reasoning for writing such a positive book about food; it Anyone who knows me will know what a huge fan of food I am. I adore cooking new recipes, playing around with flavours, and visiting new restaurants. It comes as no surprise, then, that I have wanted to read Ruby Tandoh's Eat Up!: Food, Appetite and Eating What You Want ever since it came out. Many will remember Tandoh from The Great British Bake Off, of which she was a contestant in 2013. In her insightful introduction, Tandoh gives her reasoning for writing such a positive book about food; it directly goes against the wealth of dieting and fitness crazes which have swept the United Kingdom over the last few years. She begins by rubbishing the often contradictory dietary advice which we hear almost daily on the news: 'We don't want to go hungry, we don't want to be too greedy, we don't want to live too exuberantly, we don't want to be a kill-joy. We fret about our size and shape, and too often police the bodies of others. We accept the lie that there's a perfect way of eating that will save your soul and send you careering blithely through your eighties, into your nineties and beyond. Do what you want, we're told - but you'll die if you get it wrong.' The main exploration in Eat Up! is 'everything that happens in the peripheries when we take a bite: the cultures that birth the foods we love, the people we nurture, the science of flavour and the ethics of eating.' Tandoh recognises the splendour of all food, regardless of its preparation; she shows the myriad ways in which food is directly linked with how we feel, and what we need in our lives. 'Not every meal,' she writes, 'will be in some sunlight dappled orange grove; sometimes what you need is a pasty by the side of the M4, and there's no harm in that.' Food can also be used as a tool in order to bring people together; it 'transgresses the "boundaries" between here and there, us and them, me and you, until we are all just bundles of matter, eating and being eaten.' The celebration of food is linked in with Tandoh's own memories: the blackberry bush near her grandmother's Essex garden; eating a huge Indian takeaway with her girlfriend when both were suffering with influenza; the food which comforted her when her grandfather died. She also touches upon her own relationship with food in the past, and the eating disorders which she has dealt with in the past. Eat Up! is highly revealing in this manner. Never does it feel preachy, or as though Tandoh is hard done by in any sense; rather, it feels like sitting down and having a conversation with the very best, and most intelligent, of friends. The history of food, and the ways in which we eat, have both been touched upon here. The research which Tandoh has done is impeccable; facts and statistics blend seamlessly into her narrative. So many issues are explored which can be linked to food and eating: those around weight, how we eat in public, the joy of seasonal eating, the diet industry, culture, eating trends, food as power, comfort food, and the scientific processes of digestion, amongst others. This varied content, all of which has food at its centre, is fascinating, and makes for an incredibly engaging and coherent book. Eat Up! is, pardon the pun, a delicious book; it is warm and understanding, and filled with love and humour. Such positivity abounds; throughout, Tandoh cheers for the existence of every body, no matter its size or shape. We all need to be nourished, and we need to feel happy when we eat. In this manner, Tandoh weaves together a fascinating narrative about food, peppered with recipes for every occasion, and body positivity. 'The way you feel about food,' she points out, 'sits hand in hand with the way you feel about yourself, and if you eat happily and wholeheartedly, food will make you strong.' I thoroughly enjoyed the reading experience of Eat Up!, and know that it's a tome I will dip into again and again.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    Ive never had an easy relationship with food: I hate cooking and dislike eating. Its a way to alleviate hunger rather than a pleasure. Ruby Tandoh is perhaps the only food writer who doesnt make me feel guilty and inadequate for this, which I really appreciate. In this book she takes the deliberate and revolutionary approach of not telling the reader what to eat. Instead, she explores the many significances of food, her own experiences, and how we can try to feel better about eating. I cant say I’ve never had an easy relationship with food: I hate cooking and dislike eating. It’s a way to alleviate hunger rather than a pleasure. Ruby Tandoh is perhaps the only food writer who doesn’t make me feel guilty and inadequate for this, which I really appreciate. In this book she takes the deliberate and revolutionary approach of not telling the reader what to eat. Instead, she explores the many significances of food, her own experiences, and how we can try to feel better about eating. I can’t say it transformed my perspective and made me yearn to cook - that’s probably impossible. However, I read it over dinner and felt better about my basic and unimaginative meal as a result. Tandoh’s tone is generous, thoughtful, and hopeful in the face of exhausting and fraught food discourse. She is particularly good at dissolving the moral judgements that surround choices about eating and conveying the joy that food has brought her. 'Eat Up!' invites you to reflect on the foods that you find reassuring and pleasant: porridge is the first that comes to my mind, although I only learned to like it a year ago. This lovely little book is a breath of fresh air. Tandoh's writing style is very engaging and will encourage you to feel happier about food.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Eleanor

    Ruby Tandoh is a young queer woman of colour who epitomises the best of millennial values, like self-care and not judging other people. I adore her. Eat Up is not a recipe book or a how-to-eat guide or even the radical manifesto that the publisher, Serpents Tail, says it is; its a series of intelligent, engaged meditations on food and the role it plays in our lives, and the ways in which our relationship to food intersects with cultural narratives about power, privilege, morality, money, class, Ruby Tandoh is a young queer woman of colour who epitomises the best of millennial values, like self-care and not judging other people. I adore her. Eat Up is not a recipe book or a how-to-eat guide or even the radical manifesto that the publisher, Serpent’s Tail, says it is; it’s a series of intelligent, engaged meditations on food and the role it plays in our lives, and the ways in which our relationship to food intersects with cultural narratives about power, privilege, morality, money, class, race, sex, gender, and worth. Of all the things that take up space in my head on a daily basis, food might well be the biggest: in order to feed myself appropriately, I must contend with the intersections of affordability, Type I diabetes, chronic lack of time, my own tendency to use food as a mechanism for unhealthy self-control and self-punishment, and a spectacular sweet tooth. It’s really fucking hard. Reading Tandoh’s words makes me feel understood and reassured. Yes, she says, food is complicated; no, you don’t have to eat perfectly all the time; there isn’t even any one right way to eat. Her asides on social and cultural history are succinct but thorough: the section on the history of the UK chocolate industry, and sections on queer bodies, poor bodies, and the use of food in film, are particularly good. And she does include perhaps two dozen recipes, scattered throughout the book, every one of which looks delicious and quick and affordable. It’s been years since I’ve been so uncomplicatedly excited about cooking, for myself and others.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kelsey Landhuis

    Please trust that it's not hyperbole when I say that I really and truly believe everyone should read this book. I feel like someone who has always had a relatively "healthy" relationship with food but the way Ruby writes about it has definitely been a game-changer in moving my thinking beyond just nutritional value/food groups/carbs/etc. to all the ways that good food can be enriching not just physically but mentally, emotionally and spiritually. The one caveat is that she is a UK-based writer Please trust that it's not hyperbole when I say that I really and truly believe everyone should read this book. I feel like someone who has always had a relatively "healthy" relationship with food but the way Ruby writes about it has definitely been a game-changer in moving my thinking beyond just nutritional value/food groups/carbs/etc. to all the ways that good food can be enriching not just physically but mentally, emotionally and spiritually. The one caveat is that she is a UK-based writer so the specific food items she talks about are sometimes less familiar to me, but I don't think it ever detracts from the overall point. The recipes would also take a /tiny/ bit of work to convert to US measurements, again it doesn't seem like a huge deal but just a note. I'm not sure if/when a US version of the book is coming out; I got mine from Book Depository which offers an awesome free shipping deal because I couldn't stand to wait. There are a couple of excerpts available on Ruby's newsletter if you want to look before you leap, too.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Fatma

    3.5 stars "Somehow the most elemental, easy, joyful thing we can do has become a chore and a source of anxiety, and we begrudge these blurry boundaries that encroach on us when we take the outside world inside us and make ourselves from the inside out. Food is the point where our bodies merge with the vast universe outside, and thats scary." an absolute delight. i picked this up on a whim--funnily enough, just as i was about to take it off my tbr list--and was immediately drawn in by tandoh's 3.5 stars "Somehow the most elemental, easy, joyful thing we can do has become a chore and a source of anxiety, and we begrudge these blurry boundaries that encroach on us when we take the outside world inside us and make ourselves from the inside out. Food is the point where our bodies merge with the vast universe outside, and that’s scary." an absolute delight. i picked this up on a whim--funnily enough, just as i was about to take it off my tbr list--and was immediately drawn in by tandoh's lively, vibrant writing. you can really tell how much she's invigorated by food in every word of her book. she writes about how food can lift you up and weigh you down, but consistent throughout eat up is her contagious and unabashed love of food and what it can do for us if we let it.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Robyn

    3.5 stars that Im rounding up because I wanted to like it more than I actually did. Theres some lovely passages in here and I admire Tandohs passion for her subject, but in the end I felt like this was a jumble, with many sections not fully developed and contradictory ideas from one paragraph to the next. Food and morality is a complicated subject, and I admire and support her attempt to remove stigmas from eating what you like and the idea of good v bad food (so often laden with assumptions 3.5 stars that I’m rounding up because I wanted to like it more than I actually did. There’s some lovely passages in here and I admire Tandoh’s passion for her subject, but in the end I felt like this was a jumble, with many sections not fully developed and contradictory ideas from one paragraph to the next. Food and morality is a complicated subject, and I admire and support her attempt to remove stigmas from eating what you like and the idea of good v bad food (so often laden with assumptions about class and race) - but when it comes to the hard questions posed, I rarely had a firm grasp on her stance.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sasha

    This was a little cheesy but overall a fairly enjoyable read. I happened to be reading it while coming out of a period of bad appetite so it was nice to be reminded about the magic of food and cooking! And I appreciated her pushing back on all the different ways that we are shamed about what and how we eat.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Victoria

    What a wonderful, marvel of a book. Ruby talks about food the best parts and the worst parts and food culture same so beautifully, incisively, decisively. It moved me to tears multiple times. Food is complicated and terrible and wonderful and Ruby embraces it while and helps us embrace it too. What a wonderful, marvel of a book. Ruby talks about food — the best parts and the worst parts — and food culture — same — so beautifully, incisively, decisively. It moved me to tears multiple times. Food is complicated and terrible and wonderful and Ruby embraces it while and helps us embrace it too.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ari

    THIS BOOK IS SO IMPORTANT. It's comforting, thoughtful, and incredibly illuminating, and I can't begin to describe how glad I am that a book like this exists. Food is beautiful and it's also (as Ruby says) so fucking complicated sometimes, and especially in today's world of ubiquitous diet culture it's so essential that we look at the big picture of how the way we eat defines who we are and how we move through the world (and vice-versa how those things inform what we eat). Ruby Tandoh is so THIS BOOK IS SO IMPORTANT. It's comforting, thoughtful, and incredibly illuminating, and I can't begin to describe how glad I am that a book like this exists. Food is beautiful and it's also (as Ruby says) so fucking complicated sometimes, and especially in today's world of ubiquitous diet culture it's so essential that we look at the big picture of how the way we eat defines who we are and how we move through the world (and vice-versa how those things inform what we eat). Ruby Tandoh is so generous and her food philosophy will nourish you more than any clean eating plan or Whole30 could. I honestly cannot say enough good things about this book, just mostly that I could not put it down and I want to try all her recipes immediately and share them with everyone. Please eat up!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Isabelle

    I learned a lot from this book. Its sheer scope - delving into history, religion and popular culture to articulate the complexities behind eating food - was incredibly impressive. It was an insightful and engaging read that was ultimately a celebration of food, and it helped to restore my faith in humanity. I am so done with influencers in the food world telling you that you should feel guilty about eating some foods, and revelling in the kind of Masterchef cookery (I will always maintain that I learned a lot from this book. Its sheer scope - delving into history, religion and popular culture to articulate the complexities behind eating food - was incredibly impressive. It was an insightful and engaging read that was ultimately a celebration of food, and it helped to restore my faith in humanity. I am so done with ‘influencers’ in the food world telling you that you should feel guilty about eating some foods, and revelling in the kind of Masterchef ‘cookery’ (I will always maintain that this is not a word ffs) that ascribes ‘good taste’ only to those who can afford it. In this book, discussions of the classism, racism, sexism and ethical issues embedded in present-day food and diet culture are interspersed with simple, practical recipes for yummy dinners. These are recipes tailored to people that just want a good tea after work that can be cooked in one or two pans. You don’t need a spiralizer, you don’t need a blender, you don’t need a griddle pan. They’re practical and, crucially, accessible. You’ve probably got most of the ingredients in your kitchen cupboards already. It’s this perspective on cooking, and the open, follow-your-appetite approach to eating that Ruby advocates, that I found especially refreshing. Even without all of this, it’s simply a beautifully written book. I might not start lovingly cradling jars of bolognese in the supermarket aisle (chapter one) but I will make more of an effort to listen to my body when the hunger pangs strike.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Fikri

    3.5 stars. I deeply appreciate that this book exists. I dont have a good relationship with food, sitting at the crossroads of control issues, anxieties about ethical consumption, and just being plain old picky. I think most of us would benefit from unpacking our food hang-ups at least a little and Eat Up invites us to do so enthusiastically, affirmatively, lovingly. It says a lot of good things and I hope it reaches plenty of people who need to hear these things. I didnt personally enjoy it more 3.5 stars. I deeply appreciate that this book exists. I don’t have a good relationship with food, sitting at the crossroads of control issues, anxieties about ethical consumption, and just being plain old picky. I think most of us would benefit from unpacking our food hang-ups at least a little and Eat Up invites us to do so enthusiastically, affirmatively, lovingly. It says a lot of good things and I hope it reaches plenty of people who need to hear these things. I didn’t personally enjoy it more because (ironically!) the indulgent food writing was a bit over-the-top for me, and genuinely fucked with my appetite. (I can say with 95% confidence that you will most likely not encounter this same problem.) I enjoyed the historical bits the most, but didn’t get as much from the liberal pop culture references. I also loved how far Tandoh’s explorations go, from comfort food to queerness, but less so that these often felt randomly strung together and inconclusive. But these are quite personal preferences and not an indictment of the book itself — would still recommend it quite widely.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Niamh

    I very kindly received this book as an e-arc from Serpent's Tail and Netgalley. Ruby Tandoh, best known as a finalist on the 2013 series of The Great British Bake Off, is a massively interesting figure, especially if you follow her Twitter, where she has increasingly been championing the joys of food and eating and discussing her dislike of fad dieting and the issues that still pertain to our culture regarding our consumption of food as a pastime. As someone who continues to struggle with her I very kindly received this book as an e-arc from Serpent's Tail and Netgalley. Ruby Tandoh, best known as a finalist on the 2013 series of The Great British Bake Off, is a massively interesting figure, especially if you follow her Twitter, where she has increasingly been championing the joys of food and eating and discussing her dislike of fad dieting and the issues that still pertain to our culture regarding our consumption of food as a pastime. As someone who continues to struggle with her body and her own relationship with food, Tandoh's book was a breath of fresh air and a wonderfully sweet and comforting read to sink my teeth into. This book is almost part memoir, part essay, part self-help book, part recipe book, but it is all collated into a genuine love of food and the nourishing qualities of all kinds of food. Whilst Tandoh does spend a lot of the book discussing the positives of good food and the things we can make out of it, she does not pretend that we can all very easily live a clean, pseudo-vegan lifestyle. There's an entire chapter about the Cadbury Crème Egg and the ritual that you take to eat one of those delicious little traditions. She speaks often about the joys of eating things that may not necessarily be good for your health, but are in turn good for your soul. One of my favourite parts was an anecdote about her girlfriend and herself being ill with the flu, but feeling almost immediately better after inhaling Indian food. This book is short and sweet and was definitely something that I just wanted to keep with me. My only wish is that it was a bit longer so I could just stay in this book forever and read more to comfort me in my woes about food.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Alisha

    Make sure to buy a creme egg (or five) before reading! I purchased my copy of this book at an event in Genesis Cinema, East London. A screening of Moonstruck in 35mm was followed by a Q&A with Ruby Tandoh, Zoe Adjonyoh and Rebecca May Johnson, and a book signing. The inscription in my copy reads, 'for Alisha, eat up! take good care of yourself,' followed by a heart and Ruby's name. This book was a delight from beginning to end. Ruby's writing style is so warm and energetic, and occasionally Make sure to buy a creme egg (or five) before reading! I purchased my copy of this book at an event in Genesis Cinema, East London. A screening of Moonstruck in 35mm was followed by a Q&A with Ruby Tandoh, Zoe Adjonyoh and Rebecca May Johnson, and a book signing. The inscription in my copy reads, 'for Alisha, eat up! take good care of yourself,' followed by a heart and Ruby's name. This book was a delight from beginning to end. Ruby's writing style is so warm and energetic, and occasionally sarcastic, it's like listening to a friend. I have a complicated relationship with food, which certainly isn't uncommon, and while I won't bore anyone who happens to see this review with the details of that, I turned to this book at a time when I needed it - and I think a lot of people need it. Tandoh doesn't give us a list of rights and wrongs, in fact she completely refuses to share her own food "convictions", but instead she determines that it is okay for us to not only listen to our stomachs, minds, and hearts, but also our bank accounts. This is certainly a manifesto and I am sure it is going to be a long-term companion of mine as I navigate the treacherous world of supermarkets, home kitchens, restaurants, and fast food joints. Also: the recipes seem delicious! Plenty of options for vegetarians, such as myself, and vegans.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jemma

    Eat Up is an essay that looks at the fun and pleasure of food, as well as the morality that food and consumers are labelled with gluttons and gourmets. Ruby Tandoh looks into the history of the food we see everywhere today. She celebrates what food we enjoy, what cheers us up, introduces us to new cultures and connects us with the people we love. Tandohs book does not judge she acknowledges time and again that the food we enjoy or that remind us of good childhood memories are able to put a ‘Eat Up’ is an essay that looks at the fun and pleasure of food, as well as the morality that food and consumers are labelled with – “gluttons” and “gourmets”. Ruby Tandoh looks into the history of the food we see everywhere today. She celebrates what food we enjoy, what cheers us up, introduces us to new cultures and connects us with the people we love. Tandoh’s book does not judge – she acknowledges time and again that the food we enjoy or that remind us of good childhood memories are able to put a spring in our step. She also discovers that we absorb more nutrients from our food if we enjoy the experience of eating it. She also admits that we have busy modern lives, and many people cannot afford luxuries; we are not always able to use the choicest ingredients or cook from scratch, we have responsibilities, fussy children, or are time-poor. Tandoh also talks openly about her experience with eating disorders and recognises that food is closely related to our mental health. She writes in a sympathetic and encouraging way. Overall I really enjoyed this book. I didn’t read it too quickly because I wanted to digest (excuse the pun) what she had to say. Tandoh’s well-considered essay encourages her readers to embrace the food we enjoy eating and to trust ourselves when it comes to eating a balanced diet. I will definitely be hanging onto my copy for reading again in the future.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Rosamund

    I loved this, and I knew that I would. Ruby Tandoh is excellent at writing about food and cultural norms; there were passages that positively sang! My favourites were the ode to supermarkets and the bit about the "aspirational" nature of food and fashion these days. As soon as I finished it, I felt the urge to go and pore over the recipe books on my kitchen windowsill so I could plan my next session of comforting-yet-slightly-challenging cooking (lately I've been getting frustrated with rotating I loved this, and I knew that I would. Ruby Tandoh is excellent at writing about food and cultural norms; there were passages that positively sang! My favourites were the ode to supermarkets and the bit about the "aspirational" nature of food and fashion these days. As soon as I finished it, I felt the urge to go and pore over the recipe books on my kitchen windowsill so I could plan my next session of comforting-yet-slightly-challenging cooking (lately I've been getting frustrated with rotating the same three meals due to lack of energy, among other factors). The book had so many unexpected topics and stories waiting around each corner that in a way, I didn't want it to end. I left it feeling really vindicated!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Muslihah

    This book was a joy to read. Ruby Tandoh explores the often contentious relationship food has with class, race, bodies, and wellness, and unpacks them with sensitivity and nuance. I loved that the book was also peppered with recipes from her personal collection- most of which were simple, consisted of easily accessible ingredients, and sounded absolutely delicious.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Kennedy

    Ruby is an exquisite writer and her passion for food is infectious. Now I just want to cook and be cooked for.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Molly

    Great British Baking Show contestant Ruby Tandoh has presented us with an absolute treat of a book here. Her love of food, from the sublime to the banal, fast to slow, salty to umami to sweet, light to greasy, comes through like a shock of surprising flavor that's as delicious as her sensually-adjectived prose. No stranger to food shame, Ruby (can I just call her Ruby? I feel like we might be on a first-name basis after this book) is open about her recovery from an eating disorder, and adds to Great British Baking Show contestant Ruby Tandoh has presented us with an absolute treat of a book here. Her love of food, from the sublime to the banal, fast to slow, salty to umami to sweet, light to greasy, comes through like a shock of surprising flavor that's as delicious as her sensually-adjectived prose. No stranger to food shame, Ruby (can I just call her Ruby? I feel like we might be on a first-name basis after this book) is open about her recovery from an eating disorder, and adds to her obvious love and appreciation for food an eye for intersectional analysis. She illuminates the many factors from classism to racism to cultural imperialism to fatphobia to queerphobia to corporate ethics to dualist ideas about the enlightenment of soul at the expense of the body's appetites, all of which serve to complicate and trouble our relationships to food and eating. More than anything else, this book made me hunger for the sensation of cooking, for the tastes of chocolate and roasted eggplant and red peppers and pasta, for the salty crunch of potato chips and the warm sharpness of lemon zest. Ruby took me to church, and I'm coming away holding close her message that we are okay as we are, that our tastes, our cravings and our desires are nothing to be ashamed of.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Angelique

    Yeah, at first I was like Im not sure Im going to want to read this being vegan, as the author flourishes about food, but then it got into the wider message of fat positivity, food privilege, privilege in general and I was on board for it. Its made me look at food differently and the strong morals tied up with food and hope to destroy those morals completely. Eat Up, no food is bad food. Yeah, at first I was like I’m not sure I’m going to want to read this being vegan, as the author flourishes about food, but then it got into the wider message of fat positivity, food privilege, privilege in general and I was on board for it. It’s made me look at food differently and the strong morals tied up with food and hope to destroy those morals completely. Eat Up, no food is bad food.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Rosie Ellen

    I have been raving about this book to everyone as I've read it. It was wonderful. Part memoir, part psychology of eating, part food history, part cook book. Just a wonderfully written, thought provoking, memory stirring really really interesting read. It stirred a lot of emotion surprisingly. I cried over childhood memories of tomato soup and felt heart pangs over Cadburys creme eggs. Thoroughly recommend.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Natalie

    actual rating is maybe a 3-3.5 so i really wanted to like this, and i did like it, but it just missed the mark for me. it was a very different type of book about food, at least based on the food-related media i've consumed, and i like the perspective she brings (british, mixed race, queer) and the topics covered. i like that it's a blend of personal essays, pop culture references/examples, and historical research about some major foods/players. i also liked that it didn't solely focus on american actual rating is maybe a 3-3.5 so i really wanted to like this, and i did like it, but it just missed the mark for me. it was a very different type of book about food, at least based on the food-related media i've consumed, and i like the perspective she brings (british, mixed race, queer) and the topics covered. i like that it's a blend of personal essays, pop culture references/examples, and historical research about some major foods/players. i also liked that it didn't solely focus on american research + evidence, which i have fallen into the trap of doing just because there's so much stuff out there to use that it's easier to do. i also liked her message & purpose - basically giving us information to make our own decisions, but permission to eat without the guilt (and she outlines all the different types of guilt surrounding eating decisions). so that's what i liked. what i didn't like: i dont like her writing, at all, point blank. it was a real chore to get through. this needs to be separated from her voice, which i did like, as explained above. descriptions of food are usually meant to be highlights of reading a book about food (for eg. done SUPER well in give a girl a knife), but they were SO contrived and terrible here. like they put me off the food, because it sounded like she was trying so hard, but also using such generic descriptions (i even especially noted p. 74, the rich and smoky bean stew recipe as being an example lol). she also tends to list foods in twos or threes, usually to draw some comparison. and it always follows this fucking format - high brow, medium brow, low brow - whether it's water or types of desserts, and i'm like yes you've pulled this trick 28 times already, we are aware there are ranges of the different foods, you don't have to point this out everytime you speak of a new food group. she just really loves listing foods apparently, i'm pretty sure that's 1/5 of the book. also had an issue with some of the research - a lot of it is well done, solid analysis, etc. Some of it is not. It feels like she dismisses the notion of clean eating entirely, and she sometimes makes sweeping statements with no evidence, like on p. 80. She names some situation, then gives a positive message, but doesn't establish the correlation or causation. this stuff drives me crazy. i also wish she had expanded upon some of the chapters, it generally felt like a very very brief sweep over the various topics, and was overly simplistic (the part about queerness). the pop culture references as well, this is probably just a personal issue for me, but like i appreciated the ones i did get, but not most of them because i didn't get them. which can be kind of unexpectedly alienating when they make up a lot of some of the sections. and lastly, i could totally tell that she was a philosophy undergrad. those descriptions were so dense i would have to reread sentences all the time. it was like unnecessarily packed with words and jargon sometimes that just did not need to be there! just say it plainly and concisely man! (and this goes back to the lists too, which as you can tell, i abhorred).

  24. 4 out of 5

    Bri (girlwithabookblog.com)

    I've gotta be upfront: I love Ruby Tandoh, the author of Eat Up. She was one of my favorite contestants on reality show Great British Bake Off and the co-editor of a lil zine that I adored (click for review). In this book and in all things, Tandoh has an approach to talking about the human relationship with food that I instantly devoured and wish more people were shouting about from the rooftops. While Tandoh is more explicit about her personal relationship with food in Do What You Want and I've gotta be upfront: I love Ruby Tandoh, the author of Eat Up. She was one of my favorite contestants on reality show Great British Bake Off and the co-editor of a lil zine that I adored (click for review). In this book and in all things, Tandoh has an approach to talking about the human relationship with food that I instantly devoured and wish more people were shouting about from the rooftops. While Tandoh is more explicit about her personal relationship with food in Do What You Want and vocal about her condemnation of "clean eating" in interviews, the basics of these pieces are wrapped up in Eat Up too. "Clean eating" and other diets often lead to regimented eating patterns that very closely resemble (and/or are the same depending on your viewpoint) eating disorders. This approach clearly shapes the contents of Eat Up because Tandoh isn't here to tell you how or what to eat. She wants to eat what you want and to quit being so judgmental about your own eating habits and others. Along with this, Tandoh also comments on foodie culture and the class implications that are so often tied up with food: Who gets to spend hours making food without worrying about other time demands? Who gets to experiment with flavors and go to expensive restaurants? Who gets to spend time imagining experimenting with flavors and recipes? Why are some foods traditionally made by certain groups of people dismissed from popular consumption? These are important things to consider, especially as food experiences become one of the clearest markers of class in today's world. This is an important read, and one I'm happy to have gobbled up before going to visit my family where I'm always annoying about my preference for fresh over canned vegetables. It's completely fine for me to have that preference, but who am I to judge others for preferring the purchase price and ease of preparation of the other? Eat Up influenced me to take a step back and I'm thankful for that. For more reviews, check out www.girlwithabookblog.com!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Chris Roberts

    NYC's Union Square, of a sudden the Anthony Bourdain Gods, gifted me a table at "Le Suck," publication party, five-millionth food book (ugh) tarantula waiters scurry about in spats, toasted twigs tasting plate - drink, drunk on wino wine, I choked on an asparagus bone (file lawsuit here). Chris Roberts, Breathless God

  26. 5 out of 5

    Breige

    Eat Up! is such a fantastic book. Ruby Tandoh does a great job talking about food and the different ways it impacts and influences our lives. We get some recipes in here but we also get Ruby talking about her own experiences with food, as well as speaking out about food from a political and cultural point of view. Food in relation to bodies, eating disorders, fatness and feminism. There's so much to take from that section, I was pleased to see Ruby saw that she has a certain luxury to say 'eat Eat Up! is such a fantastic book. Ruby Tandoh does a great job talking about food and the different ways it impacts and influences our lives. We get some recipes in here but we also get Ruby talking about her own experiences with food, as well as speaking out about food from a political and cultural point of view. Food in relation to bodies, eating disorders, fatness and feminism. There's so much to take from that section, I was pleased to see Ruby saw that she has a certain luxury to say 'eat what you want' while being slim and not getting the same reaction from the public as someone who is larger would for saying the same thing. She got her friend Bethany Rutter to talk about what it's like to eat in public and be fat and it's refreshing to hear a voice from that perspective. We get a take on the big trend on wellness, health, 'you are with you eat' and bullshit science. She speaks about food, class, culture, LGBT issues, there's some great intersectionality in this book. We get pop cultural references, personal stories (picking blackberries at her grandmother's house), and tidbits like Creme Egg Ritual. Everything is so well researched. The best part is how Ruby writes and just encourages people to enjoy food. There's no shaming here! From the most expensive Michelin Star meal to a microwaved Shepherd's pie and everything in between, they all serve purpose and pleasure. I devoured this book and look forward to buying my own hard copy so I can dip in and out to my heart's content. 4.5*

  27. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Tandoh is apparently known for her Bake-Off appearances? I know her as a Guardian food columnist. This is an affirming book about the importance food has in our culture and in our lives. She looks at diet as it shows up in literature, film, and her past; she thinks about home cooking versus fast food, fine dining versus the simplest meals cooked for friends, what we eat when were sick versus what we make when were showing off. Mostly, she wants to make it clear that no foods are simply wrong, Tandoh is apparently known for her Bake-Off appearances? I know her as a Guardian food columnist. This is an affirming book about the importance food has in our culture and in our lives. She looks at diet as it shows up in literature, film, and her past; she thinks about home cooking versus fast food, fine dining versus the simplest meals cooked for friends, what we eat when we’re sick versus what we make when we’re showing off. Mostly, she wants to make it clear that no foods are simply wrong, and that you should eat what makes you feel good. “It’s about engaging all of your senses, and letting food, body, craving and daydream all bleed into one.” Tandoh writes evocatively and reassuringly, but I think this book would be better suited to younger people who have experienced food and body issues.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Paula Dennan

    Eat Up a thoughtfully written book about food, bodies, fatness, diet culture, the wellness industry, mental health and queerness. While it does contain some recipes, this is not a recipe book; it is a manifesto to follow your gut and take joy in eating the things you want, even if those foods are considered bad for you. Especially when those foods are considered bad for you, because food doesnt have to come with added judgement. I devoured this in one sitting, but know Ill re-read it many times, Eat Up a thoughtfully written book about food, bodies, fatness, diet culture, the wellness industry, mental health and queerness. While it does contain some recipes, this is not a recipe book; it is a manifesto to follow your gut and take joy in eating the things you want, even if those foods are considered “bad” for you. Especially when those foods are considered “bad” for you, because food doesn’t have to come with added judgement. I devoured this in one sitting, but know I’ll re-read it many times, savouring Tandoh’s words as I go.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Safiya

    Truly fascinating and enjoyable. The themes covered in this book - film, Gender, Queerness, health, etc - are broad and incredibly well researched, and yet it never feels bogged with information. I very much heard the words in Rubys voice - her GBBO doubts and worries, the blurbs in her cookery books and her often controversial social media postings. Breath of fresh air sounds incredibly cliche, but (as she says) at a time when food writing is incredibly elitist or following some sort of clean Truly fascinating and enjoyable. The themes covered in this book - film, Gender, Queerness, health, etc - are broad and incredibly well researched, and yet it never feels bogged with information. I very much heard the words in Ruby’s voice - her GBBO doubts and worries, the blurbs in her cookery books and her often controversial social media postings. ‘Breath of fresh air’ sounds incredibly cliche, but (as she says) at a time when food writing is incredibly elitist or following some sort of ‘clean eating/wellness’ route, Ruby’s writing seems a lot more realistic and considered.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Emily Dixon

    It's very rare for me to say a book changed my life. I left it a few days after finishing this book to review it, because I was imagining that the hype might die down and it would go from 'book that changed my life' to 'a very good book', but it didn't. So: this book changed my life. I've never read anything by a food writer that I felt really understood me and the way I see food. I have a very difficult and changeable relationship with food, which has leaned towards different eating disorders It's very rare for me to say a book changed my life. I left it a few days after finishing this book to review it, because I was imagining that the hype might die down and it would go from 'book that changed my life' to 'a very good book', but it didn't. So: this book changed my life. I've never read anything by a food writer that I felt really understood me and the way I see food. I have a very difficult and changeable relationship with food, which has leaned towards different eating disorders over the years but never settled down into one thing. My fear of food and my desire to eat has always been tied in with my wider mental health, my sexuality, my history with abuse, and this beautifully written and insightful book enabled me to go to a fast food place and finish a meal without feeling bad, eat normal portions of food in the work canteen more days running than I've managed before, start storing food in my room (I live in a single room) again which is a big deal for me. I'm writing this review as I eat a microwaveable spaghetti bolognese which I wouldn't say I'm enjoying (because it's not a very nice microwaveable spaghetti bolognese) but I'm able to appreciate, eat slowly and without guilt. This is one of those books that I just know I'm going to buy for everyone I know (I've already started...) because I really think it can make everyone's relationship with food and cooking better, including people without eating disorders, including people of a whole range of backgrounds, sizes and lifestyles. I'm sure I'll give it to any kids I have one day. Definitely read it!

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