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.

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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.

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