cover image Little Culinary Triumphs

Little Culinary Triumphs

Pascale Pujol, trans. from the French by Alison Anderson. Europa, $17 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-1-60945-490-6

Pujol’s pleasant and fun debut features well-rounded characters and a delicious, Parisian appreciation of food. Sandrine Cordier has always loved to cook, and she possesses talent, but she felt obligated to follow her family’s wishes to study law, marry, and have children. The law degree was left unfinished, and now she works at a government employment agency in Paris’s Montmartre neighborhood and cooks for her husband, her two teenage children, friends, and neighbors. When the overeducated, highly opinionated, unemployed Antoine Lacuenta shows up to apply for benefits, Sandrine cooks up a plan to send him to a culinary school via a government program, and then employ him in the restaurant she has fantasized about owning since childhood. Antoine can assist with managing the new restaurant, and he also has helpful friends, including the dapper Toussaint N’Diaye, who joins the team as maitre d’ when the business opens, and the gifted chef Vairam Navaratnarajah, who has always believed that “cooking was not simply a matter of human survival, but belonged to a truly spiritual realm.” Sexy encounters, irreverent humor, and subtle twists keep up the pace of this quirky tale about a variety of French appetites. (Dec.)