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Book review: How The British Fell in Love With Food: 25 years of food writing

Book review: How The British Fell in Love With Food: 25 years of food writing
How The British Fell In Love With Food; 25 years of food writing from the Guild of Food Writers
Edited by Heather Bateman
Published by Simon & Schuster
RRP £20
Growing up during what might be aptly dubbed 'the sundried tomato era', 'How The British Fell In Love With Food' reminded me just how far we've come since the early '90s of my childhood. And equally, how relevant much of the food writing in this book remains to our eating habits today.
Spanning 25 years of food writing from members of the highly-esteemed Guild of Food Writers, 'How The British Fell In Love With Food' paints a fascinating portrait of British food culture over the past quarter-century, enabling the reader to both rediscover old favourites and encounter works which have eluded him. And for the uninitiated, it's a fantastic induction.
The compilation of extracts provides a crash-course in 'books you have probably encountered but may not have delved into'. They all deserve further research- in many cases, the excerpts whet the appetite enough to send the reader directly to the library- or the kitchen, depending on whether the urge for cognitive or physical nourishment is more urgent.
Cleverly sectioned by era, 'How The British Fell In Love With Food' almost portrays a complete social history of our eating, created through prose from such notables as Deh-Ta Hsiung, Rick Stein, Claudia Roden, and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. Included works are diverse both in style and topic, ensuring the readers' view of British food culture remains broad and balanced.
Author biographies preceding each extract are a considered touch, prompting much exclamation of 'I never knew that!'. In many cases, I'd procured copies of works by various included authors in charity shops and book sales from pure personal fascination, scarcely realising said author had made such an impact in the field.
It's hard to pin down a demographic audience for this book- harder still, I think, to suggest an individual who wouldn't find themselves immersed within a few pages. Taken as a whole, 'How The British Fell In Love With Food' is an education. Dipped into as fancy takes you, it's a stellar compendium of work from the stalwarts of British food writing. A thoroughly worthwhile addition to any bookshelf.



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