Alex is a brilliant chef, but he struggles to fill his Barcelona 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-mind outlook challenged, and discovers that they both share a painful past.
Written by one of the most acclaimed Iberian chefs, Vanilla Salt is a sensual and mouth-watering exploration of the kitchen and the human heart, as well as a tale of simmering passions and the need to confront personal truths.
Vanilla Salt by Ada Parellada (translated by Julie Wark) was published by Alma Books on 17 July 2014.
Alex is chef patron at Antic Mon, a restaurant in Barcelona. Antic Mon is failing, whilst the neighbouring restaurants are thriving. Antic Mon is failing because of Alex. He's a fabulous, passionate, talented chef whose food is a triumph. He's also foul-mouthed, bad-tempered, angry and thinks that people should just come and eat. Alex can't be bothered with social media and being nice to people, and there is absolutely no way that he is going to use an ingredient that originates in America. So Alex loses the customers who want chips for their kids, or tomatoes in their salad.
Annette is not a chef, she only speaks very basic Catalan, but she's a foodie and she wants some experience. Alex and Annette find themselves working alongside each other in the kitchen of Antic Mon, and this working relationship becomes a journey of discovery for both of them.
Vanilla Salt is packed with luscious food, the descriptions of how each dish is created, and the wonderful ingredients are mouth watering. It is so obvious that the author is an accomplished Chef and is also a very skilful writer. She also excels at creating vibrant characters, with huge personalities who are perfectly formed; flawed but loveable, with some dialogue that is often hilarious, but also quite emotional in places.
I love a foodie novel, and I especially liked the modern feel to Vanilla Salt. Social media, especially blogging plays a huge part in this story.
As a foodie, a reader and a blogger, I found Vanilla Salt an extremely good read. Ada Parellada is a great author, and the translation is done extremely well.
My thanks to Marina from Alma Books who sent my copy for review. Alma Books have created a Foodie Fiction Pinterest board which features more of their books and some delicious foodie pictures.
Ada Parellada was born in Granollers near Barcelona. She started to study law but her passion for food led her to become a chef. Together with her husband, she opened the innovative restaurants Semproniana and Coses de Menjar, both in Barcelona, and Acontecimiento in Lisbon. Ada Parellada collaborates with various newspapers and TV channels. She has written several cookery books, and Vanilla Salt is her first novel.