Wednesday, March 13, 2019

"The Chef’s Secret"

Crystal King is a novelist, editor, professor, social media professional, and critical & creative thinker.

Her debut novel, Feast of Sorrow, is about Marcus Gavius Apicius, the man whose name is on the world’s oldest known cookbook.

Her new novel, The Chef's Secret, is a story about a famous Italian Renaissance chef, Bartolomeo Scappi, who was the cuoco segreto (private cook) to several Popes.

King applied the Page 69 Test to the new novel and reported the following:
Page 69 drops the reader into the heart of the main conflict between my protagonist and villain.
The feather in Romoli’s green velvet hat fluttered in the breeze. He continued as though he had not heard me. “When Bartolomeo gifted me his recipes, it was the most important thing that ever happened to me. I could never thank him enough. Tell me, Giovanni, did they read the will yet? Barto told me when he passed he would leave more of his recipes to me.”

The heat rose to my face and to the tips of my ears. I jabbed a finger at Romoli’s chest. “You stole those recipes! How dare you ask if there are more for you.”

Romoli brushed my hand away. “I don’t understand this jealousy, Giovanni. I worked with him long before you did. I was called into service by the Medici and could not say no. It is because of that appointment you were even allowed into Bartolomeo’s good graces. Why should you be so surprised he would promise his recipes to me?”
This is a page of incredible fictional license. All of the people mentioned on this page were real, but none of these actions likely happened. It’s a “what-if” scenario, a bold connecting of the dots between the things we know and don’t know about these individuals: the Renaissance celebrity chef, Bartolomeo Scappi; his apprentice and nephew, Giovanni; and Medici steward, Domenico Romoli. I try to stay true to what we know about historical figures, but when there are big gaps between those facts, that’s where the joy of invention comes in for authors of historical fiction.

In this case, I assume that Scappi and Romoli certainly were familiar in at least name, as they had cookbooks published within the same decade, and the world of Renaissance Italy was a small one. I wondered, what if they were jealous of each other? How would that rivalry manifest? This is one of those scenes that came from such conjecture.
Visit Crystal King's website.

The Page 69 Test: Feast of Sorrow.

Writers Read: Crystal King.

--Marshal Zeringue