White Truffles in Winter by N.M. Kelby
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
At times, this reminded me of The Unprejudiced Palate and The Pedant in the Kitchen with the descriptions of the various foods and recipes and discussions how food should be appreciated. That's not a bad thing - I wish there'd been more of that! The historical fiction part was also interesting, but uneven.
Set in the final year(s) of Auguste Escoffier's life and filled with flashbacks, we get a mishmash of fact and fiction. For example, his career trajectory was well known, but his relationship with his wife wasn't. The relationship with Sarah Bernhardt gets the most flashbacks, his cooking career far fewer. There's a cook hired to help his wife (who has stayed in Monte Carlo while Escoffier lived in London and Paris) named Sabine, who apparently looks very much like the actress - she's sullen, rude, doesn't want to cook and yet somehow learns. Too much happens off stage here, and there are times when I just wanted more: more about the food, more about his life post-Ritz (there are lots of hints about him losing and gaining fortunes, but nothing really concrete), more about his wife, etc.
Copy provided by publisher.