Cinnamon and Gunpowder
Summary (from Goodreads): A gripping adventure, a seaborne romance, and a twist on the tale of Scheherazade—with the best food ever served aboard a pirate’s ship
The year is 1819, and the renowned chef Owen Wedgwood has been kidnapped by the ruthless pirate Mad Hannah Mabbot. He will be spared, she tells him, as long as he puts exquisite food in front of her every Sunday without fail.
To appease the red-haired captain, Wedgwood gets cracking with the meager supplies on board. His first triumph at sea is actual bread, made from a sourdough starter that he leavens in a tin under his shirt throughout a roaring battle, as men are cutlassed all around him. Soon he’s making tea-smoked eel and brewing pineapple-banana cider.
But Mabbot—who exerts a curious draw on the chef—is under siege. Hunted by a deadly privateer and plagued by a saboteur hidden on her ship, she pushes her crew past exhaustion in her search for the notorious Brass Fox. As Wedgwood begins to sense a method to Mabbot’s madness, he must rely on the bizarre crewmembers he once feared: Mr. Apples, the fearsome giant who loves to knit; Feng and Bai, martial arts masters sworn to defend their captain; and Joshua, the deaf cabin boy who becomes the son Wedgwood never had.
Cinnamon and Gunpowder is a swashbuckling epicure’s adventure simmered over a surprisingly touching love story—with a dash of the strangest, most delightful cookbook never written. Eli Brown has crafted a uniquely entertaining novel full of adventure: the Scheherazade story turned on its head, at sea, with food.
Review: This was a really quirky book that can best be described as Pirates of the Caribbean meets the Food Network show Chopped. Which sounds bizarre, doesn't it? The story got bogged down a little with the opium/tea trade situation between England and China, and the battle scenes tended to be a little gory for my liking. But overall, I was intrigued to learn a little about the life of a pirate at that time in history, and profoundly grateful not to have been one! The characters were certainly picturesque, but my main complaint is that Wedgwood was pretty whiny, and stood by his old employer for far longer than he should. This is not a book I would recommend to everyone, but I think those who like bizarre stories will find this entertaining.
Rating: 4 stars