Sweetbitter, A Delicious Read

 Sweetbitter is  a delicious novel, exquisitely written to invoke all the senses.  It's tantalizing and provocative inviting you into the world of fine dining with every sip of prose.

This was not a quick read for me, nor a dramatic or intense story, but I really did enjoy it.  My favorite word I learned from the book is soigné, which means, dressed very elegantly or well groomed or elegantly maintained or designed.  Such a beautiful word.  The French I tell you.

It's a frenzy of a story with the narrator/protagonist Tess, buzzing around the city of New York in the wee hours after her shift from the upscale restaurant, where the Chef's angry voice echoed in the background.

Tess is a twenty something year old girl who shows up in New York seemingly abandoned with endless ambition to find herself or perhaps create herself with only mild experience as a barista.

Endless hours are spent on sumptuous meals and a particular bottle of Opus which was meant to be the 2002 bottle and not the 1995.  Bites of escarole with anchovies filled the heads of the various characters in the book shuffling between tables and back of the house.

The prose in this book is just as poetic as the food.  Well written, you feel as if you are at Park Bar, sitting a few stools down from Tess trying to fit in.

Of course there is always a boy.  Enter Jake.  The quintessential stereotypical bartender that Tess lusts for.  It's a sweet and bitter dance between the two romping about until Tess's insatiable desires are fulfilled.

Here's a little briny taste:

Excerpt:  "In Marseille you could walk down to the docks in the mornings.  They had urchins, still alive.  An offhand exchange, a few franc for this delicacy.  The rocks are littered with debris: empty shells opened with a knife, rinsed by water, and sucked dry on the spot.  Men taking lunch with bottles of their hard house wine, watching the boats move in an out.  It's the ovaries - the coral ovaries.  They are supposed to transfer a great power when you consume them.  Absolutely voluptuous, the texture, absolutely permanent, the taste.  It stays with you for the rest of your life."   

Although the except is delightful, is still doesn't make me want to try Uni but I am dying to try the Billecart Salmon Elisabeth Salmon Cuvee Brut Rose.  Tess describes it:  peaches, almonds, marzipan, rose petals, a whiff of gunpowder.

Ultimately Tess has to choose.  As Jake cautioned her, "Maybe you don’t have to compromise yet, but you’re going to have to choose between your mind and your looks. If you don’t, the choices will become narrower and narrower, until they are hardly even choices and you’ll have to take what you can get."

Tess does choose in the end, and you'll have to read it to find out what she did.

If you are a foodie you will probably enjoy this book.  I think I need some electrolytes, the hair of the dog or some La Gitana Sherry.  This book was intoxicating.

The author is Stephanie Danler and it was published by Alfred A. Knopf.

Thanks for stopping by.

The Literary Babe


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