On my radar: Ruby Tandoh’s cultural highlights

The cook and food writer on Siri Hustvedt’s What I Loved, Greta Gerwig in Maggie’s Plan and Zoe Adjonyoh’s Ghanaian pop-up

Ruby Tandoh grew up in Southend, Essex, and at the age of 20, while studying philosophy and history of art at University College London, she took part in the 2013 Great British Bake Off. She was the runner-up in the competition, and after receiving internet abuse spoke openly about the “personal vitriol and misogyny” she had been subjected to. Since then she has written a food column for the Guardian and made documentaries about food for Radio 4. She also writes a column for Vice called Eating Dirty with Ruby Tandoh as a reaction to the modern trend for “clean eating”. Her first cookbook, Crumb, came out in 2014, and her new book, Flavour, published by Chatto & Windus, is out now.

1 | Book

How to Be a Person in the World, by Heather Havrilesky

Heather Havrilesky
‘Always empowering’: Heather Havrilesky. Photograph: Heather Havrilesky

Heather Havrilesky writes an advice column called Ask Polly for the New York Magazine. I’ve been following it for a year and it’s always empowering. The way she approaches stuff is so refreshing: you feel that your problems are the problems everyone has. This book has some of her best columns and loads of new letters. There’s one called “Making friends (out of nothing at all)” that I really like. It’s about a woman in her mid-20s who’s in a new city and doesn’t have many friends. I think that’s something a lot of people find as they get a bit older and they’ve drifted away from their school friends.

2 | Album

Next Thing by Frankie Cosmos

Greta Kline performs as Frankie Cosmo.
‘Light in tone and spirit’: Greta Kline performs as Frankie Cosmos. Photograph: Lorne Thomson/Redferns

I’ve been listening to this a lot. It was released a couple of months ago and the songwriter, Greta [Kline], writes these fun, poppy songs. They’re really light in tone and spirit and they bounce along. It’s gentle to listen to while also being very lively. The things she writes about are very personal to her; she’ll write about her dog who died, or a day out with friends she really enjoyed, but it also feels universal at the same time. I saw them live a couple of months ago at the Deaf Institute in Manchester – they were excellent and fun, and she’s just so charming in an effortless way.

3 | TV

Gilmore Girls

Gilmore Girls
‘An absolute favourite’: Gilmore Girls. Photograph: Everett/Rex/Shutterstock

This is an old one but it’s going to be new again soon: they’re reviving it for a final season which is going to be on Netflix in November. I’ve been rewatching all the old ones. It’s absolutely a favourite; they were my friends at a time in my life when I felt a bit isolated and a bit insecure, so it’s a lovely series for me to be able to go back and watch. Choosing a favourite character is difficult. I love Luke in the diner; I’m very much a fan of that kind of taciturn but loving soul, and I think Kelly Bishop [who plays the grandmother] is wonderful.

4 | Poetry

Bridget Minamore.
‘Fantastic debut’: Bridget Minamore. Photograph: Suki Dhanda/The Observer

Titanic by Bridget Minamore

This is the first collection of poems Bridget Minamore has published. She’s amazing, and she’s only 24 or 25. She’s made so many fun references throughout the book, like the one to Daniel Bedingfield in her intro quote, and lots of the poems reference music as well. Many of the poems are about modern relationships and sex and the way she navigates the world as a young black woman. It’s a fantastic debut. I saw her at a Southbank event a few years ago and she was great.

5 | Restaurant

Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen

Zoe Adjonyoh
Zoe Adjonyoh: ‘It’s nice to see young people of colour coming up in the food scene.’ Photograph: Elena Heatherwick/The Guardian

This is a pop-up restaurant in Brixton, London. I haven’t been yet but I really want to go. Zoe Adjonyoh makes traditional Ghanaian food, and my granddad was from Ghana so that’s interesting to me on a personal level. It’s really nice to see young people of colour coming up in the food scene, which maybe traditionally has been quite homogeneous in its demographic. I haven’t had nearly enough Ghanaian food – my dad made some terrible Ghanaian food when we were growing up – so I’d really like to try some good stuff, which is why I’m desperate to go to this.

What I Love by Siri Hustvedt

6 | Fiction

What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt

I am terrible at reading fiction – I rarely get through a book – so it says a lot about this that it gripped me enough to keep me going to the end. It was so astute in the way it talks about the friendship between the two main guys: it’s insightful and tender and didn’t feel too contrived. It felt real and I found that very touching. Towards the end it gets very dark, like a thriller, which is exciting in a different way, but the friendship is what drew me in. It has an unsettling undercurrent that runs through it: there’s this sense of dread that permeates it, which was compelling and also made it difficult to read at times.

7 | Film

Maggie’s Plan

Greta Gerwig as a hapless twentysomething in New York in Maggie’s Plan.
Greta Gerwig as a hapless twentysomething in New York in Maggie’s Plan. Photograph: Everett/Rex/Shutterstock

I saw this recently and really enjoyed it. Greta Gerwig stars as the character she always is – a hapless twentysomething in New York fumbling her way through life, but she’s trying to find a way to have a baby without a boyfriend. Then it spirals into all these little schemes she has – she starts an affair with a married man, then she wants to get him back with his wife, and in the end all her plans implode and none of it really works. Julianne Moore plays the ex-wife. I absolutely love her – she was so cruel in it. I think she’s fantastic.

Click here to buy a copy of Flavour by Ruby Tandoh (Chatto & Windus £20) for £16.40


Kathryn Bromwich

The GuardianTramp

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