What's local in a world that is becoming one global monoculture? That's the question confronting Jeremy Papier, the Vancouver chef at the center of Taylor's comic debut novel. Jeremy divides chefs into two types: the transnational Crips, who mix, say, Chilean farm-bred salmon and kimchi, without compunction; and Bloods, who are purists, stubbornly local in their food choices. Along with his friend Jules Capelli, another Blood, Jeremy runs the Monkey's Paw Bistro, making meals from mostly local ingredients for local foodies. Storm clouds lie on the horizon, however. Jeremy is deep in debt. To get by, he scams some $2,000 with the aid of Benny, a customer-turned-girlfriend. The scam backfires, and Jeremy has to turn to Dante Beale, an old family friend and the owner of a national chain of coffee houses, for money. Dante redesigns the bistro, turning it into a potential Crip palace. Jules is fired. Jeremy, under contract, remains. Turning for solace to his father, an anthropologist whose major project is living with the homeless in Stanley Park, Jeremy is reluctantly drawn into his father's work and the investigation of a decades-old mystery involving two children killed in the park. Along the way, he becomes fascinated by cooking for the homeless, and the joys of preparing squirrel, raccoon and starlings carry him into a glorious prank, which he plays at the opening of Beale's redesigned bistro. Taylor has written a sort of cook's version of the anti-WTO protests, striking a heartfelt and entertaining blow against conformity. (June)
Forecast:Foodies will be the base readership for Taylor's novel (mentions in food magazines and on food Web sites should help alert them to its publication), though it is a literary title in its own right and was shortlisted for the Giller Prize in Canada. It should do particularly well on the West Coast, where its political and culinary sensibilities will resonate (Taylor will embark on a West Coast tour).
Release date: 05/01/2002