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A Rick Stein Odyssey
on 27 September 2013
I have always been a fan of Rick Stein and had to read this book as soon as it dropped through my letter box. 4 days later I have finished it and enjoyed every page. We all tend to form a view of a person in the hot light of celebrity but he manages to show a lot of his inner man. I was as curious about his divorce, remarriage, early life and his life with Chalky as any, but he has produced a work which rings a bell in my own mind.
Under a Mackerel Sky (a sign of bad weather) gives a strong account of his life, priveleged to a point, but this is never a divisive issue. He is not the hero of the book - his family and friends are. And the late, great Chalky, of course. Because of this we are able to see the young man trying to get over his father's suicide, his own insecurity, and his need to 'tough it out'. His mother must have been a very strong woman and comes across as such. She is worth his praise which is heartfelt.
He tends to be the lummox in his stories and he deals with self-doubt as do I - meet it head on and nut it: not terribly wise but very much the essence of a stubborn man. He treats his first wife, and business partner, with respect and levels no criticism at her. He sets himself up as the target for frowns if required, but he seems to me to be pretty honest. His slow rise to fame, by hard work and bloody mindedness shows grit. His success should show him he is a liked man, and the book shows he just may have reached a point where he can relax a little.
He is very proud of his children, extended family and friends and gives them all great value in this autobiography. There is enough about cooking, travel and culinary exploration to satisfy foodies, and enough about Padstow to bolster the local economy for years to come. Overall this is a very good read and he is a far better writer than he may realise. My only hope is he writes another with Chalky as the hero.
I highly recomment this book.