Ed takes you on a culinary journey through his life

For a man who’s been a Labour MP, danced with Katya Jones on Strictly Come Dancing, climbed Kilimanjaro with Little Mix and travelled to Trumpland to speak to the former US president’s supporters, it may come as a surprise that Ed Ball’s new book is about food.

Friday, 22nd October 2021, 12:22 pm
Ed Balls appears in the Borders Book Festival at Abbotsford on Tuesday, November 2, at 8pm. Photo: John Devlin.

But for Ed, who's heading to Abbotsford on November 2 for the Borders Book Festival, it’s not strange at all.

Another of his post-politics TV appearances was on Celebrity Best Home Cook with Mary Berry and Angela Hartnett, a competition he went on to win.

Speaking to the Southern today, Ed told us how the book – Appetite: A Memoir in Recipes of Family and Food – in which each chapter is based on a recipe that has a story of its own, came into being.

He said: “I’ve always cooked for my family … it’s what family is all about.

"When my daughter turned 18, we asked her what present she would most like, thinking she would say a car, which we couldn’t afford, so that would have been a bit of a blow, but she said she would like a collection of the recipes I’ve cooked for her throughout her life.

"When I totted them up, there were 65 of them, so me and my wife Yvette put them together for her.

"Last year, we had planned to return to America to talk to the Trump voters ahead of the election, but because of the pandemic it was impossible. So at the last minute, I was asked to do the Best Home Cook show, which I surprisingly won.

"I used a lot of the recipes I used in the cookbook for my daughter, and realised a lot of them had come from my mum and my grandma.

"Talking to all the other contestants, we all realised that most of the things we were cooking were based on nostalgic recipes.

"I didn’t really want to do a cookbook, because I’m not a chef, but I realised that all these recipes come with a story at the heart of it.

"At the festival we’ll be talking about the 70s when we never went to restaurants; what it was like to dine with Tony Blair and Gordon Brown following John Smith’s death in 1984; should you make shepherd’s pie with beef or lamb, and what we ate going up Kilimanjaro with the Little Mix girls.

"Every aspect of our lives has food in the middle of it.”

Ed Balls appears in the Borders Book Festival at Abbotsford on Tuesday, November 2, at 8pm.