When Grace Dent’s now famous food column in the Evening Standard came along to prick the pomposity of the restaurant world and the hipness of hip London, she did it with relish. Probably Piccalilli. Opinions were firmly divided, but she went on to become one of the most read food critics in the UK, and the hardest to impress of the scary final-stage judges on MasterChef.

Growing up in working class Currock, Carlisle on a diet of boundless love and beige food, Dent’s memories of her 70s childhood and misspent 80s youth are often hilarious and touching. She grew up with acute awareness of girls “thinking they were it”, yet “it” was exactly what she became. In spite of sometimes grappling with imposter syndrome, Dent’s indomitable chutzpah and desire to be the new Paula Yates, along with a genuine talent for writing very funny copy, led her to push as far as she could damn well get in the competitive world of journalism – which turned out to be very far indeed.

Discovering a penchant for the high life thanks to some truly bonkers press trips, soon her life was all tasting menus and nodding appreciatively at sommeliers as they served her fancy wines. If you’ve ever wondered what TRULY went on in the world of 90s high fashion magazines, where the freebies flowed and beleaguered work experience girls were referred to as ‘the cupboard people’, you won’t be disappointed. But there are deeper layers to this memoir too, as Dent’s bond with her family pull her back home in adulthood. A funny, warm, snarky and poignant read, this book is also about aspiration, class, family life and how upbringing impacts on our relationship with food. Loved it.

Marina Gask

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