Review by Booklist Review
Great British Bake Off finalist turned food writer Tandoh serves up a critique of the diet and wellness industry and the harmful myths it perpetuates, among other things. "I don't want to tell you what, when, where or how to eat," she writes. While encouraging body positivity and acceptance, Tandoh parses the intersectionality of food, race, sexuality, class, and culture to reveal ugly truths about body shaming, food practices, and diet trends. The narrative floats from personal reminiscences to pop cultural and historical references to sharp analysis--more of an intellectual exercise than a focused, linear approach. Tandoh excels at descriptive food writing--readers will salivate over fresh blackberries--but passages digging into social injustices sometimes get bogged down with repetition. Part memoir, occasional cookbook, and mostly manifesto, this book, first published in the UK in 2018, will have those ready to tackle the problems of Western food culture nodding "Yes!" as Tandoh challenges the status quo.
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
"Food is, in many ways, more complex and controversial than ever," asserts former Great British Baking Show finalist Tandoh (Crumb) in this earnest if imperfect culinary manifesto. Contending that society's relationship with food has been complicated by contradictory messaging around the right and wrong ways to eat, Tandoh writes "the most elemental, easy, joyful thing we can do has become a chore and source of anxiety." Determined to work against that mentality, she looks at food as a "whole picture," sharing facts and culinary studies that will uplift readers--from waxing poetic about the liberating joys of baking to citing studies that correlate the pleasure humans derive from food to its nutritional power. Appearing just as often, though, are flimsy claims that lack accompanying evidence; in one such example, she casually references "studies" that purport that "people classed as overweight have... reduced susceptibility of certain diseases," without further consideration other than the glib pronouncement that "fat bodies are big and perfect, and deserve plates of meatballs." Still, home cooks will appreciate the handful of recipes sprinkled throughout, such as a sweet potato and smoky butternut squash stew with chickpea dumplings. There are valuable nuggets of insight, but too much sifting is required to get to the good stuff. Agent: Molly Friedrich, Friedrich Agency. (July)
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Review by Library Journal Review
Tandoh (Flavour; Cook as You Are), a 2013 Great British Bake Off finalist and author of three cookbooks, offers an uplifting, eye-opening, and liberating meditation on eating, dieting, and food culture. Eating is so much more than satisfying a physical need. It encompasses emotional eating, mental health, family traditions, and, as Tandoh passionately argues, is affected by class, race, and gender. Tandoh adorns her reflections with delectable recipes--gorgeously buttery tomato sauce, sweet potato and butternut squash stew, and tomato soup to make at the end of a long day. With gentle, clear tones, her narration envelops listeners in the warmth of her understanding and compassion. There is a place for everyone here, from those seeking food as medicine, to transgender people trying to conform to unforgiving societal expectations, to individuals contending with disordered eating. Tandoh encourages listeners to dig into their food and eat with gusto, no matter what others may think--"Who cares? Eat their leftovers. If they carry on judging you, eat them too." VERDICT This empathetic and timely listen will inspire and inform. A celebration of food and humanity that will be welcomed by anyone wishing to embrace the notion that eating can be both pleasure and self-care.--Sarah Hashimoto
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Review by Kirkus Book Review
A sweeping social justice analysis of the way we eat--and the problematic ways society tells us to eat. Journalist Tandoh, a Great British Bake Off finalist and author of three cookbooks, begins by comparing current food culture to "a bad boyfriend, dragging you down or holding you for ransom." Too often, she argues, the modern dialogue about food seems to force us into "a perfect way of eating that will save your soul and send you sailing through your eighties, into your nineties and beyond." In reality, food has a complex history sullied by everything from colonialism to homophobia. For example, Tandoh writes, "tea with sugar is a blood sport," recounting how the British East India Company took over the tea trade in tandem with its bid to colonize India. In another chapter, the author takes on body shaming, emphasizing how "bodily scrutiny" is disproportionately applied to queer and trans people. Later, Tandoh uses sugar--a delicacy in Elizabethan England that has since become associated with the sugary drinks consumed by the working poor--as a tool for interrogating classism. Ultimately, the author encourages readers to eat what they want, when they want: "All we can really do is to take the revolution a meal at a time….Be the only person at the table to get a dessert. When it arrives, don't share it. Fully rejoice in all your appetites--the wise and the unruly alike." The combination of Tandoh's earnest, compassionate tone and lyrical prose produces a text that is readable and informative. Her analysis of the intersecting systems of oppression that affect our ability to enjoy our food is trenchant and original yet occasionally overwritten and meandering. Her call for greater freedom in self-care is particularly relevant within a tumultuous global culture still struggling with the pandemic and myriad other concerns. An engrossing, empathetic critique of modern culinary culture. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.