Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Delicious Read

In general, I don't recommend a book until I finish it.  I have a lot of very well-read friends and I don't want to stake my reading reputation on an unknown quantity.  And yet, 25 pages into a recent book, I started alerting friends, "Put this on hold!  You must read it."  White Truffles in Winter by N.M. Kelby struck me as a luscious, elegant, warm read about the life of Auguste Escoffier, a renowned French chef from the early 20th century, and his wife, Delphine.  While I was somewhat nervous about having made a recommendation so soon into the book -- equivalent to recommending a meal after the appetizer -- I'm pleased to report that by the dessert and coffee course of the book's end, I was equally as enthusiastic as I had been at the onset. 

Kelby elegantly wove a story that begins as Delphine is dying, bereft of a dish named for her.  She is anxious that the world will not believe that her husband truly loved her unless he names a dish for her.  Her concern is compounded by the number of dishes he created for and named after others, especially the other women in his life (including actress Sarah Bernhardt and opera soprano Nellie Melba -- of the peach and toast fame).  Escoffier resists, insisting that there is no dish that can adequately capture her.  Instead, Escoffier spends his time working on his memoir, which Kelby fleshes out with extended scenes from Escoffier's past. 

Like a good meal, a good book is often difficult to describe to those who have not yet experienced it and, like different flavors, what appeals to one person won't necessarily appeal to another.  So, with that caveat, I highly recommend this to fans of historical fiction, love stories, and foodies.  Bon appetit!

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