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Confessions of a Gourmand, or How to Cook a Dragon by [Tom Bruno]
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Confessions of a Gourmand, or How to Cook a Dragon Kindle Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Length: 353 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Product Details

  • File Size: 870 KB
  • Print Length: 353 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publication Date: April 12, 2010
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003H05Y24
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,694,361 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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You hear a lot about "world building" in the spec fic / sci fi / fantasy genres--this is the first book I've seen that goes at the problem largely through food. There are plenty of well drawn races and places, each with its own quirks and qualities to set it apart, and each with its own lovingly described cuisine. Making Medusa the queen of the chocolate bean, for example, is a great stroke (and leads to some interesting plot twists). Imagine sci fi channel meets cooking channel, but better written. A good book to get lost in for a while, most definitely worth a read.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Three chapters into this book I was interested in the style it's written in, and by chapter 10 the content was living up to the promise.

The frame of this book is great, almost a stream of conscious from an exciting character (one devoted to the gastronomic arts.)It gives you a sense of where he is now, then begins to start an odd sort of autobiography. The world itself is excellent, and explained in a thousand small comments that flow very smoothly in the narrative. It's extremely immerssive and unique in my experience.

I highly recommend the reading this fun, exciting and suprising.
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The writer is, as other reviewers noted, pushing the boundary of the fantasy genre by focusing on food more than on sex and war (not that he neglects either.) What he is also doing is a sort of subtle parody of the genre, with over-the-top use of over-the-top superlatives. The result is quite enjoyable, although toward the end the breathlessness sobers up a bit. The self-reference to the book in the closing chapter leads to an epilogue that fails to account for the inclusion of the dragon-cooking prologue, since the character puts a specific time stamp on the date of the book's supposed writing that is before he has met the characters described in the prologue. (The problem would have been easily fixed if a copy editor had struck out the reference to the book's opening line from the description of the unfinished manuscript in the narrator's possession.)

However, the author more than makes up for this sloppiness with world-class novelist's incorporation of philosophical wisdom in the text.
e.g.
"Life is a mess of raw ingredients. Sometimes if you're fortunate you are able to transform it into something palatable, even delicious; other times [...] like a soup with too much salt, you wonder how such a promising batch of ingredients could produce such a toxic result."

The narrator might have been talking about himself (or his author) when he says "Never trust a food critic who speaks in absolutes, for how indeed do they know enough about cuisine to pronounce something the very worst or the very best?"

All in all a good read. If for nothing else, read it for the two big scenes where the present narrative and flashback intertwine, linked by (what else) a similar flavor or recipe!
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Most famous chef in the known world and his autobiography ends 17? I'm just akin' 'cause, you know, seems maybe something got left out. No really, he's writing this history as an 'old man' but it only covers birth to 17. Where are the next, oh, 50-80 years? Ok, I'm being overly critical and maybe a little priggish, but I've got a point right?

Now about those first 17 years...they're pretty awesome. In the tradition of epic tales everywhere, Vin manages to heroically be in the right place at the right time (It's actually often the wrong place at the wrong time, but who's counting?) to make friends and influence people. By age six, he's garnering the attention of kings, by mid-adolescence he's wooing queens and rescuing the huddled masses and by 17 he's changing local history and striking out on his own. Cool.

By 17 I'd paired combat boots with my minidress and silently dared my father to oppose my free expression of prescribed fashion anarchy. So, I'm duly impressed with Vin's accomplishments. There were some definite, 'well wasn't that convenient' moments, but they were generally overshadowed by my basic enjoyment of the tale and Vin's voice.

The story is marinated...no, narrated in a marvellously conversational tone, by an eminently likeable main character. Vin's willingness to admit to his own faults makes him hard to resist and Bruno's ability to somehow thread Vin's narrative with subtle emotional shifts made it feel real, despite it' fantasy setting.

The book does drag in the middle. Counterintuitively, this is when Vin ages past his culture's version of childhood, leaves home for the first time, travels, discovers women, etc. You would think this would be where the book picks up.
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This is one of those rare books that I did not want to end! BTW, the recipe for cooking a dragon appears in the prologue.
Protagonist Van d'Allamitri is a master chef and offers readers any number of recipes in a parody of the "food" books so popular at the moment.
But the book is also an allegory of our own world of petty hatreds, racism, xenophobia, and in some cases, kindness.
Van's mother is from Shan li. She married a Varonian and was therefore shunned by her family. But, by the time Van is born his father has disappeared, leaving him in the care of his restauranteur mother and Tanger, a Cyclops who is her assistant. In Shan li both Varonians and Cyclopeans are looked down on as are all "foreigners." But the Varonians, the dominant political force, are in power and are trying, among other things, to force their bad taste in cuisine on Shan li, a place known for its gastronomical eloquence. Van's mother tries to fight back. Van, by now a teenager whose mastery of the kitchen is already known far and wide, agrees to accompany Tanger on a procurement trip ... picking up spices for the restaurant on local markets. The trip is a watershed in Van's life, teaching him many lessons that the reader might also profit from, and enabling him to find the keys to winning the game of political intrigue.
The narrative style reminds me of the narrator in Umberto Eco's "The Name of the Rose," though Van an active participant and not an observer.
The book is wonderful!!!!!!!
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