THE PASHA OF CUI­SINE

Foreword Reviews - - Foresight Translation -

Say­gin Ersin, Mark Wy­ers (Trans­la­tor) Ar­cade Pub­lish­ing (SEPTEM­BER) Hard­cover $25.99 (288pp) 978-1-62872-961-0

Say­gin Ersin’s The Pasha of Cui­sine de­lights with its aro­matic lan­guage, scin­til­lat­ing nar­ra­tive, and com­pelling char­ac­ters. Here, a feast to sat­isfy even the most dis­cern­ing lit­er­ary palate awaits.

The cook—a pro­tag­o­nist who re­mains name­less un­til the fi­nal page of the novel—learns from an early age that he is a Pasha of Cui­sine, a rare per­son in Ot­toman lore ca­pa­ble of great, some­times mag­i­cal, culi­nary feats. The lone sur­vivor of the slaugh­ter of chil­dren re­sult­ing from a change in royal power, the cook is se­creted away from the Im­pe­rial Palace by the Chef sfendi­yar and handed over to Mas­ter Adem in the kitchens of the nearby House of Plea­sure to be­gin per­fect­ing his art. It is here that the cook falls in love with Kamer, a dancer. When Kamer is taken into the ser­vice of a pow­er­ful noble, the cook sets out on a jour­ney to var­i­ous other masters in or­der to re­unite with his beloved.

Even for those un­fa­mil­iar with its fea­tures or history, the Ot­toman Em­pire comes alive in the novel thanks to vi­brant col­ors and mouth­wa­ter­ing smells. De­spite the ab­sence of a name, the cook is a fleshed-out char­ac­ter whose plight elic­its em­pa­thy. A pair of broth­ers teach the cook the ef­fects that heav­enly bod­ies can have on food, and the Lady of Essences im­parts her vast knowl­edge of spices. Such knowl­edge be­comes a po­tent tool in the hands of the cook, in a way mak­ing him both a chef and a ma­gi­cian. These hints of magic add a fairy-tale fla­vor to the ti­tle. And Kamer, a pos­ses­sor of a fierce cun­ning, is far from the help­less damsel who must be res­cued.

Re­plete with charm and in­trigue, The Pasha of Cui­sine is a de­li­ciously spell­bind­ing ad­ven­ture where food ri­vals, and may at times ex­ceed, the power of love.

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