Cinnamon and GunpowderLarge Print - 2013
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Into a world in which mash-ups between pop culture and literature are trending high (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies), enter author Eli Brown. Mr. Brown takes the world of foodies and throws it (kidnaps it, rather) into the world of 19th century piracy. Chocolat meets Treasure Island. Julia Childs meets Jack Sparrow. Except that in this case the culinary genius is a fellow by the name of Owen Wedgewood and the pirate is a lass by the name of Mad Hannah Mabbot.
Wedgewood is a pious, melancholy widower enjoying his employment in the household of a wealthy though enigmatic shipping magnate, when both his peaceful life and his employer are snuffed out of existence by the pirate Mabbot. She will spare his life, as long as he can prepare her an exquisite Sunday repast each week. Thrust into a ship’s hold, Wedgewood plans his escape even as he desperately searches the ship’s meager provisions for the makings of a feast. He inevitably gets to know the eccentric crew and little by little his narrow, closed mind opens to the reality of the wider 19th century world, a world where not everything is as it seems - pirates might be the good guys, love can blossom literally anywhere, and even the phrase “all the tea in China” can have a deeper – indeed sinister – meaning.
Awash with vivid culinary and historical detail with a writing style quite reminiscent of Robert Louis Stevenson - which might turn some readers off - Cinnamon and Gunpowder is nevertheless an extremely satisfying read – like a rich stew after a cold winter’s day. It is also guaranteed to make you think more deeply about the food you might take for granted, when you see how hard won some meals can be.
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