Ed Balls recalls his favorite meals and food memories in this review.
Ed Balls has been in politics for more than two decades, but he is most known for his Gangnam Style salsa act on Strictly Come Dancing.
The former Labour shadow chancellor has been honing his culinary skills since losing his political position in 2015. This year, he won the title of Celebrity Best Home Cook, and he’s now authored an engaging memoir that includes childhood memories, political anecdotes, and favorite recipes.
The book was inspired by his eldest daughter, who requested a compilation of his recipes when she went to university and dedicated to his mother, who taught him how to cook when he was 11 and his father, who taught him to love food.
One of his signature recipes is roast beef. He cooked it for his MP wife Yvette Cooper and their three children every Sunday, served it to his campaign team the night before his political career ended, and made it for Little Mix’s Jade Thirlwall and Leigh-Anne Pinnock after they conquered Mount Kilimanjaro together for Comic Relief.
Balls feels that eating together as a family is essential for “our collective sanity and welfare.”
He recalls eating tinned peaches with evaporated milk or his grandmother’s shepherd’s pie (to which he now adds Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce for “additional tang”).
The book’s most hilarious section is about his time at Westminster, especially the lunch in 1993 when Peter Mandelson invited him to leave journalism and become Gordon Brown’s adviser.
Mandelson’s tomato soup, French bread, and green salad were delicious, but Balls imagined they were just the appetizer, not the entire meal.
He writes, “If I were hosting someone, I wouldn’t want them to turn down a third helping of dessert.”
This is a delectable feast of a book, regardless of your political beliefs.
Balls is a likable character, and his cooking is as well. His mother’s lasagne and apple and blackberry crumble aren’t fancy or difficult to make, but they’re a lovely celebration of family food at its best.