The Virago Book of Food: The Joy of Eating, ed Jill Foulston

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The Independent Culture

This mouthwatering anthology caters for every taste: the greedy, the curious, the lonely, the in love... Food spreads itself into many areas of life, and topics covered here in bite-size form are as diverse as kitchen cooking and food as a form of art. "The place I like best in this world is the kitchen," writes Banana Yoshimoto, while Angela Carter's protagonist seeks succour in the "domestic geography" of a new house – identity hinges on a slice of currant cake.

The excesses of gastronomic desire are foregrounded in "Unrestrained Appetites", from the "dark creamy sweetness" of chocolate evoked by Diane Mott Davidson, to Grace Nichols' poem "Sugarcake Bubble" ("Sugarcake, sugarcake/ Bubbling in a pot... I could eat the lot"). "Festive Fare" explores food celebrations, from those in a remote Afghan region to George Eliot's evocation of Christmas pud in Mill on the Floss. But among the most powerful accounts are from those deprived of food. Anne Frank describes Miep's account of an engagement party – the hors d'oeuvre with eggs and roast beef a stark contrast to her two spoons of porridge. But whether loving or loathing, all reveal the intimate connection between food and identity.