Hungry by Grace Dent review – a delicious tribute

The restaurant critic’s funny and poignant account of life with her father and how it shaped her relationship with food

Hungry is a story about food, class and families and the distance travelled between a terraced house in Carlisle and multimillion-pound London restaurants that quake at your arrival. Above all, it’s a gorgeous, unsentimental tribute to the relationship between Grace Dent and her father, George. It’s about the ways in which love is communicated in a working-class family that doesn’t do “touchy-feely” and what happens when a man who has never been one for intimate talk slowly slides out of reach into dementia.

In a media career spanning more than two decades, Dent has trained her irreverent eye on most aspects of popular culture, but she’s best known now as a restaurant critic and the early part of Hungry revisits the ways in which family life shaped her relationship with food. Ex-soldier George teaches her to cook with Campbell’s tinned soup. The Dents were a happy, if undemonstrative, family, though George is given to hugging his daughter and telling her: “You’re my only little girl.” When this later proves untrue – he turns out to have two previous daughters, whose photo she finds in a drawer – Dent finds ways to excuse him so that she doesn’t have to revise her feelings.

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