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The Food Taster by Peter Ebling

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The Food Taster by Peter Ebling

Post by LCW » Tue August 26th, 2008, 5:18 pm

I have to say I found this cute little novel a refreshing read! It's very different from any other book I've read. The novel is presented to the reader as the memoirs of Ugo DiFonte, the main character. Ugo is a down on his luck peasant on the verge of starvation along with his young daughter, Miranda.

He ends up in the wrong place at the wrong time (or vice verse depending on your point of view) and is forcibly recuited to be the Duke's new food taster. A harrowing job since the Duke's less than charming character and personality have earned him many enemies.

Ugo manages to make a sucess out of a bad situation and becomes indespensible to the Duke. Miranda is a peasant girl raised as a princess and she grows up to be a great beauty eventually catching the eye of the Duke himself. This brings them a whole new set of problems and Ugo scrambles, schemes, and plots to keep them both alive.

One thing I liked so much about this novel is that Ugo seemed so real. The writing just brims with "Ugo's" passion!! He makes each and every thing, all the minutia of daily life in the Duke's castle seem like an adventure. He makes the walk from the food table to the Duke's table seem like he's walking on broken glass or hot coals. This brings Ugo to life to the reader in a way I've not read in many books.

There is the irony in that while Ugo spent most of his life starving, he is finally surrounded by the finest food available but yet eating for him is tortuous as he becomes so paranoid that each bite will be his last. He beautifully describes not only the torture of thinking each bite is the one that will kill him but also the frustration of not being able to enjoy such delicious food.

I highly recommend this novel even though it is rather short, it was actually a refreshing change from the longer novels I usually prefer. It gives the reader a great feel for the time, the descritpions of the setting are detailed yet don't detract from the characters. I'm a foodie so I love the descriptions of the all the dishes and meals and as a bonus there are a few recipes from the Renaissance time period in the back of the book. I made the lemon chicken one and it was great!

4/5 stars!

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