Ugly Food

Overlooked and Undercooked

December 2016 9781849046862 288pp
Out of print


Why don’t we eat more octopus? Cheeks and feet are good value and delicious, so why do people prefer fillet or chops? What about rabbits and squirrels? And what’s wrong with ugly vegetables?

The food industry, like the fashion industry, seems driven by the pursuit of impossible perfection: pre-packaged meats with nary a head, foot or set of giblets in sight, and supermarkets stacked with rows of blemish-free fruit and vegetables. But the same ingredients that are neglected, overlooked, and forgotten, are also tasty, sustainable and cheap.

Ugly Food aims to change the way people think about food, revealing the tips and tricks you need to prepare undervalued ingredients with ease. Alongside recipes, Horsey and Wharton provide social histories of foods that are positively brimming with fascinating facts, fictions and flavours.

Table of contents

Recipes include:

Ox-Cheek Salad à la Hongroise
Lao Chicken Feet Salad
Maldivian Curried Octopus
Spiced Squirrel Popcorn
Deep-fried Rabbit Ears
Sheep’s Brain on Toast
Char Siu Pigs’ Cheeks


‘With their book Ugly Food, Horsey and Wharton have become cheerleaders for those vegetables, animal parts and fish species deemed so unattractive that they go to waste … it includes tricks you need to prepare undervalued ingredients with ease. Even chicken feet or pig’s cheeks suddenly look a whole lot more appetising’ — The Observer Magazine

‘A rollicking read, wildly entertaining and comes with some very useful recipes. Admittedly, you may not be planning on eating squirrel, sheep’s feet or chicken claws, but there’s plenty of stuff about more conventional, if not always pretty, raw materials. Delightfully eccentric but also useful.’ — Irish Daily Mail

‘A celebration of all those overlooked and undercooked ingredients that tend to lose out to Instagram-friendly foods such as avocado, beetroot and pea shoots. A paean to rabbit ears, chicken feet and misshapen vegetables.’ — i


Richard Horsey grew up in the sleepy English seaside town of Lyme Regis. He has worked for the United Nations fighting forced labour, as a foreign-exchange trader in Hong Kong and as an itinerant dishwasher. He has a doctorate in cognitive science and is an expert on the politics of Myanmar. He lives in Yangon.

Tim Wharton has been a singer-songwriter and recording artist, a butcher’s boy, a marquee-erector, an English teacher, and currently works as a linguist at the University of Brighton. He is an accomplished cook and, as well as his academic work, has published on food culture and recipe writing.

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