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White Truffles in Winter
on 28 December 2012
This novel is based upon the life of Auguste Escoffier, a chef to the rich, powerful and influential. Told in the form of memoirs, written when Escoffier is an elderly man in Monte Carlo where his wife Delphine is dying and shortly before the outbreak of WWII, they tell the story of a career and a marriage. Married for fifty five years, the Escoffier's have spent much of their life apart. Delphine both a poet and a woman who raised their family while Escoffier worked his magic in kitchens across the world - here are the names of famous hotels, such as the Ritz and the Savoy, and menu's created for the great transatlantic liners of the day, including Titanic. It is also the story of Escoffier's love for Sarah Bernhardt and how Delphine coped with both her husband's absence and his love for another woman.
This really is a treat of a novel, ideal to curl up with on winter evenings. Forget the celebrity chefs of today, Escoffier was a man who really knew the rich and famous of his time, who cooked for royalty, the influential and the rich and famous. After winning his wife in a billiards game with her father, there are moving scenes where he teaches her about his world. His kitchen was his life and it was a place of great sensuality. As Delphine lays, elderly and ill, she wants her husband to create a dish for her. This novel jumps everywhere, skipping through time, memories and dishes, all lovingly and beautifully described. A real treat, slow, moving and memorable, it is a novel that I am sure I will return to.