I have reviewed a few books from Alma Books now and last month their recent books followed the theme of food.
Vanilla Salt by Ada Parellada to review. What was interesting is that this is Ada is actually an acclaimed Iberian chef, she has written several cookery books but this is her first ever novel.
Alex is a brilliant Catalan chef, but he struggles to fill his restaurant because of his gruff, eccentric personality and his refusal to use ingredients that trace their culinary origins to America, such as potatoes and tomatoes. When he meets the young, enthusiastic and beautiful Canadian Annette, he finds his ideas and narrow minded outlook challenged, and discovers that they are both concealing painful pasts.
Alex is not only the chef but the owner of the Antic Mon, a restaurant in Barcelona. Whilst other restaurants in the area are thriving, Alex's business is rapidly failing, not because of the food he serves but because of his attitude. He not only lacks customers but workers too. His foul mouth and bad temper are enough to scare anyone away.
"I've been wanting to change my supplier for a while now. Your fish stinks. It's the worst in the whole region. If you can't appreciate the fact that you're working with the best bloody cook in this god forsaken country, you can bugger off."
And then there's Annette. A shy Canadian woman who is in need of a job as well as a home. She is not a professional when it comes to the food industry, she is what I would call a foodie.
Through a mutual friend, Oscar, Alex and Annette find themselves working alongside one another.
With Annette speaking very little of Alex's first language, Catalan, exchanges are hard at the best of times but she tries to give as much as Alex dishes out.
"This night, we full, Annette warns Alex when she sees him going upstairs to rest."
The book is story with many sides. Two people on a journey of discovery, a budding romance and also many culinary surprises.
Packed with some mouth watering recipes, which were described in a way that left me hungry, you could see Ada's chef side shining through the novel.
"The apples are ready. He sautes them in a little butter with a sprinkling of sugar until they glow with the golden tones of the setting sun."
Overall I really enjoyed the book.
The story itself was originally wriiten in Ada's own language so I was impressed at how well it flowed considering it had to be translated into English.
The characters were likeable even Alex. Conversations between everyone were witty and at times I found myself laughing out loud.
A great book for readers and foodies alike.
Disclaimer : I was sent this book FOC for reviewing purposes however all thoughts and opinions are my own.