Prue Leith’s favourite books
Prue Leith, the Great British Bake Off judge, cookery writer, chef and novelist, picks her favourite books about food. The new edition of her autobiography, Relish: My Life on a Plate, is published by Quercus at £20.
First Bite by Bee Wilson, 2016 (4th Estate £8.99). Bee Wilson discusses why children are picky and what to do about it. Her gentle prose reads like a novel and is more inspiring than any healthy eating manual.
The Omnivore’s Dilemma
by Michael Pollan, 2006 (Bloomsbury £10.99). The seminal book about the way we farm, process and eat our food, and how industry (Monsanto, the corn lobby, feedlot farmers) and government are complicit in selling the American public a lousy diet. Sadly more relevant with every day that passes. The Angry Chef by Anthony Warner, 2017 (Oneworld
£9.99). A highly readable rant about the expensive bogus medicines, miracle diets and superfoods that con the public, don’t work and make millions for their promoters.
Heartburn by Nora Ephron, 1983 (Virago £8.99). Before she wrote wonderful movies like When Harry Met Sally..., Ephron wrote this hilarious, touching and original novel. Semi-autobiographical – it is based on her marriage to, and divorce from, Carl Bernstein and his affair with Baroness Jay – it’s also about food, notably her vinaigrette.
With Bold Knife and Fork by M.F.K. Fisher, 1968 (Vintage £9.99). M.F.K. is America’s
answer to Elizabeth David: a cook who is a first-class literary writer. Her pithy and witty style is alternately down to earth and funny or elegant as a soufflé. An absolute joy whether you cook or not.
Relish by Ruth Cowen, 2006 (to be published in paperback by Orion in May, at £10.99). Ruth Cowen’s biography puts Alexis Soyer, the Victorian celebrity chef and inveterate egotist, where he should be – leagues ahead of Escoffier: great cook, prolific inventor (gas barbecue, air-driven spit, field stove, flame lamp) travelling philanthropist (soup kitchens in Ireland, two years fixing the field hospital in the Crimea) and more.