Today I was lucky enough to find myself at Ilkley Literary Festival in conversation with fellow Southender and food writer Ruby Tandoh. I watched Ruby intermittently on Great British Bake Off and our careers have followed similar but different arcs over the last few years; a catapult into the limelight from our seaside town, both of us coming out as queer, both writing three books each, and both with a history of eating disorders and battles with mental health and food.

There the similarities seem to end, as Ruby is thoughtful and serious to my boisterous flippancy, wise and gentle to my exasperated bull in a china shop. It was a real pleasure to share a stage and hear her speak about food and appetite, how awesome our bodies are (all of us, not just ours in particular!!) and a blessed relief, really, to not have to carry the can for entertaining an audience on my own for once!

If you don’t already have them, Eat Up! is a manifesto for every body to learn to trust their instinct when it comes to food and self care. Flavour: Eat What You Love is a sweet and savoury cookbook that encourages exploration and the joy of taste and flavour, and Crumb, The Baking Book is a true helpmeet in the often-tricky world of cakes and bakes.

I hope to do more work with Ruby soon – she’s a breath of fresh air in this industry, and has certainly given me food for thought today.

Jack. X

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All text copyright Jack Monroe.