cover image HIGH BONNET: A Novel of Epicurean Adventures

HIGH BONNET: A Novel of Epicurean Adventures

Idwal Jones, . . Modern Library, $12.95 (160pp) ISBN 978-0-375-75756-3

Jones's amusing 1945 novel, back in print for the first time in 40 years as the sixth entry in the Modern Library Food series, follows the adventures of Jean-Marie Gallois as he works his way up from apprentice saucier to chef de cuisine (along the way earning his "high bonnet") in renowned French restaurants. This is not, however, a novel about kitchen politics or about a young provincial becoming a Parisian man-about-town. This is a novel about food with a capital F, about meals, extravagant meals, had in fine dining rooms, country gardens and filthy taverns alike. As Anthony Bourdain (author of Kitchen Confidential) says in an introduction, in this book "everyone"—from Jean-Marie's confectioner uncle to the Gypsy coppersmith who mends the kitchen pots—"is a gourmet or a gourmand, racing through life oblivious to all creature comforts but the pursuit of flavor." Jones does take care to describe the workings of a 1930s French kitchen. He seems to relish capturing all the players, from scullions to wealthy diners. But he lingers most lovingly over his descriptions of food and flavors, and the pleasure of eating. A revered chef, for instance, has "an exquisite palate... so edged that it could cleave through a strange dish and its complexities to the intent of the chef" while a young woman attracts attention not with her beauty but with her appetite. Readers who want a full-blown story will be disappointed, but those who savor food writing will be thrilled by the wit and descriptive powers of this neglected author. (July)