Paperback review: How to Eat Out, By Giles Coren


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The Independent Culture

Chapter One is a funny, lyrical, affectionate 15-page memoir of young Giles eating out en famille at the Gourmet Rendezvous in Finchley Road, north London.

The descriptions of the food, the atmosphere, Alan Coren's attempts to speak restaurant Chinese, and the heroic smoking of the 1970s, are wonderfully well done. I'm afraid the rest of the book did not appeal so much. Giles eats his way around the world, extolling the food he loves and sneering baroquely at the food he doesn't like. There are snippets of fairly obvious advice: Insist on tap water and don't fill up on bread before a meal. It's well-written, in a brazen, look-at-me style, full of comic nastiness ("gang-raped carrots", "ordurous sandwich", "urinous juice", "hell's own bum boil"). If Martin Amis was a food writer, this is the sort he would be.