Food can be a great unifier and this is more than prevalent in Vanilla Salt by Ada Parellada. Catalan chef Alex is an amazing chef who excels at producing beautiful Catalan dishes, but he struggles to hold down staff or attract customers due to his gruff mannerisms and often child-like tantrums.
Enter enthusiastic Canadian and anonymous food blogger Annette, who with nowhere else to go, takes a job in Alex’s restaurant. Determined to make the best of things, as well as putting up with the rude Alex, she employs all her social media skills to come up with taster menus and adventurous ploys to entice new customers to the restaurant.
As they get closer together, complications with love and business cause much upheaval for the foodie pair and through their endured hardships they also discover an unknown past in each other that threatens to catch up with them.
I liked foodie books and the food described in the story is mouth-wateringly good. You really get a sense of the setting through the rich and colourful language and the zest for food which was truly pleasurable to read. The main characters have the main storylines, but I found it was the supporting characters that really made the heart of the story.
There was a fair bit of sex which I was not expecting, and the story does explore some darker themes away from cuisine which added extra depth to the story. I particularly enjoyed how Annette was an encyclopaedia of food history knowledge and often imparted tasty morsels of food trivia.
The book is written by a chef and that passion for food really shows in the storytelling. I can’t say I have experienced Catalan cooking before but this story has definitely made me want to expand my culinary horizons! Sensual, sensational and finger-licking good, Vanilla Salt is a wonderful tale of love and food and a journey for happiness.