Thursday, February 03, 2022

Top ten cooks in fiction

Annabel Abbs is an award-winning author and journalist. She writes regularly for a wide range of newspapers and magazines and lives in London, with her husband and four children. Her novels, The Joyce Girl and Frieda, were published to great acclaim.

Abbs's newest novel is Miss Eliza's English Kitchen: A Novel of Victorian Cookery and Friendship. (The UK title is The Language of Food.)

Her first foray into memoir and her first solo-authored non-fiction book is Windswept: Walking in the Footsteps of Remarkable Women.

At the Guardian she tagged ten favorite cooks and chefs in fiction. One title on the list:
Tilo in The Mistress of Spices by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Tilo is an immigrant from India who runs a spice shop in California. As she roasts, grinds and blends spices, she also serves up wisdom and advice to her local community. Until, that is, a lonely American turns up, threatening to destroy her magical powers forever. Sumptuous descriptions of spice are woven through this story of magic and myth – “fried garbanzos, yellow sticks of sev, spicy peanuts in their red skin … whole mung beans green as moss … tea spiced with clove”. Like Eliza Acton, Divakaruni was a poet first – and it shows in her artful prose.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue