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Book cover of The Cheffe

The Cheffe

A Culinary Novel

Marie NDiaye


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Coup de coeur
Coup de coeur (Fr. Lit), by Ella
"pan-fried fillet of pork topped with anchovy butter" Finally chop 3 garlic cloves and 8 anchovies and mix well with 1/2 cup of softened butter, a squeeze of lemon, then add salt, pepper and chili to taste. Leave to chill. Heat oil in a large frying pan until hot and add 2 pork chops, cook until brown on each side and cooked through, add a little of the anchovy butter to the pan and serve with an extra dollop of butter and mashed or roast potatoes.

"Marie NDiaye is so intelligent, so composed, so good, that any description of her work feels like an understatement" - Madeleine Schwartz, New York Review of Books

"Rich, meandering . . . NDiaye excels at luscious, forensic descriptions of the ritualistic preparation of food" - Catherine Taylor, Mail on Sunday

The Cheffe is born into an impoverished family in Sainte-Bazeille in south-western France, but when she takes a job working in the kitchen of a couple in the Landes region, it does not take long before it becomes clear that the Cheffe has an unusual, remarkable talent for cooking. She dreams in recipes, she's always imagining new food combinations, she hunts down elusive flavours and aromas, and she soon usurps the couple's cook.

But for all her genius, the Cheffe remains very secretive about the rest of her life. She becomes pregnant, but will not reveal her daughter's father. She shares nothing of her feelings or emotions. And when the demands of her work and caring for her child become too much, she leaves her baby in the care of her family, and sets out to open her own restaurant, which will soon win rave reviews and be lauded by all.

But her relationship with her daughter will never be easy, and before long, it will threaten to destroy everything the Cheffe has spent her life perfecting.

Translated from the French by Jordan Stump.

Publisher: Quercus Publishing
Binding: Paperback
Publication date: 10 Jun 2021
Dimensions: 128 x 196 x 22 mm
ISBN: 9781529416794