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Appetite by Ed Balls

Recommended by: Gill Richardson - Group Sales Director

So first things first – who can resist a book that looks like this?! Just the most wonderful image of a childhood Ed, with the coolest 70s shirt ever… and then the quotes: Stephen Fry, Claudia Winkleman, Caitlin Moran and Delia Smith. You can’t ask for much better than that.


And the great thing is, they are all right. This book IS joyous and wonderful and delightful and brilliant! Forget the pugnacious politician… the Ed we meet within these pages transports us back to childhood memories of food and family and he does it with a warmth and sense of nostalgia that tugs at the heartstrings. From packed lunches on school trips (the simple pleasures of a bag of crisps and a Club!), to the merits of Angel Delight, to whipping up the perfect birthday cake for his own children… it’s clear that most of Ed’s memories revolve around the delights of food and eating. Oh, and family too. You really get the sense, reading this, that Ed comes from a thoroughly grounded, close-knit family and that, alongside his wife Yvette, he has done his utmost to create the same environment for his own three children. Family is clearly important to him – his vegetarian brother, his mum and dad, his wife, his children - all loom large in this book, albeit frequently through the lens of their culinary skills (or lack thereof!) and dietary quirks. 


The ex-politician is still there, though. There are some really interesting titbits about how eating out is used in political circles to indicate that a private conversation is required or that plotting is to be done… and there is a memorable description of his own first encounter with Peter Mandelson and a rather austere power lunch that left him in no doubt who was boss. Similarly he illustrates the extreme difficulties of juggling family and political life – dragging the children from constituency to London on a weekly basis, trying to accommodate late-night voting. Unbelievably when Yvette had her children in the early 2000s there was no statutory maternity leave for government ministers – the question had simply never arisen. (After much dithering she was advised by senior civil servants to take her request to the Queen: she declined, and awarded herself and her successors 6 months paid leave). 


But all this is done with the lightest of touches: the book is hugely entertaining, the stories pithy, and food and cooking always at the heart of it. Each chapter is followed by two recipes that have been mentioned somewhere within its pages. Whilst I cannot yet vouch for them myself, the recipes look pretty straightforward and I definitely have my eye on the Cooked Chocolate Mousse. Ed is, after all, the winner of this year’s Celebrity Best Home Cook, so I think we can safely say they will be great. This book is completely irresistible.


A Memoir in Recipes of Family and Food


'Charming' – The Sunday Times
‘Delicious’ – Daily Mail
'Wonderful' – 
Stephen Fry
‘Delightful’ – Delia Smith

'Brilliant' – Claudia Winkleman
'Joyous' – Caitlin Moran
'Entertaining' - Observer
Funny' - Ken Follett 

'Glorious' - Daily Express
'Touching' - Robert Peston
Appetite is a memoir with a twist: each chapter is a recipe that tells a story. 

Ed Balls was just three weeks old when he tried his first meal in 1967: pureed roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. From that moment on he was hooked on food.

Taught to cook by his mother, Ed's now passing her wisdom on to his own kids as they start to fly the nest. Reflecting on his life in recipes, Ed takes us from his grandma's shepherd's pie to his first trip to a restaurant in the 1970s (and ordering an orange juice as a starter); from the inner workings of Westminster to the pressures of parenting. This is a collection of the meals he loves most, and the memories they bring back.

The world may have changed since 1967, but the best recipes last a lifetime. Appetite is a celebration of love, family, and really good food.