Nearly eight years ago I was lucky enough to hear Grace Dent speak at a Woman’s World of Whiskey event that I attended in London – back in the days when I used to get invited to blogger events, and before anyone had invented the term influencer. I’ll be honest and say that before I went I wasn’t really that fussed about hearing her speak. I’d seen her pop up in various places on TV, but had never been that impressed with her. How that changed when I heard her speak in person.
Nowadays, as well as being a respected and well-known restaurant critic, she is also all over TV and radio. I don’t really watch Masterchef, but do love catching her on a variety of Radio 4 programmes, and also am totally in love with her new Guardian podcast, Comfort Eating. The episode with Rosie Jones is particularly laugh out loud funny, but also need to come with a very large explicit content warning.
A recent visit to the local library with my youngest had me walk past the biography section and Hungry caught my attention from one of the displays. It made me realise that I actually knew very little about Grace Dent. I’d detected an obvious northern accent, but that really was about as far as it went.
Hungry fills in all the blanks nicely. Grace is just a few years older than me and so much of her childhood food habits were quite relatable, along with the stories of working towards her hostess badge at Brownies. Where I went though I don’t think we were posh enough to serve tea and cake, just biscuits!
What I wasn’t expecting was just how touching I would find Hungry. The parts of the book that cover her adult life feature her father’s dementia, and also her mother’s cancer. Both are written about so poignantly, with her also clearly explaining the very real pull between needing to be with family up north, but also having to balance that with work in London. Earlier in the book she writes about how her working class roots taught her never to turn down a job, as you simply never know if it might be the last one you’re offered. I’m not sure how exactly she does it (the sign of a great writer I guess) but you can really feel that tension between the family and work sides of her life in this difficult time.
Anyway – that’s me coming clean. Now a Grace Dent super fan. And I defy anyone to listen to her voice and not be swept away somewhat by the way in which she seems to purr somewhat when she speaks. Well, purrs until she cackles with laughter in a wonderful northern way!
Hungry by Grace Dent is available to buy online here.