Ages ago, a book arrived via surface mail (when did that phrase originate? Hmmm). The book -- A Serving of Scandal by Prue Leith. Not surprising, given the title, the book is somewhere between a romance and a romance, with some resonance with Julie Hyzy's white house chef books. (Yes, I repeated the word romance twice; I simply could not find another term.) Leith's book features a chef turned caterer who has a young son of about 5, named Toby, who serves as the reason for her choice to cater. What makes this somewhat like the Hyzy books is that the caterer works for the Department of Foreign Service. And yes, there are men -- the fascination with a politician, the [SPOILER ALERT] resurfacing of Toby's father, and much much more. One figure -- the somewhat stuck up (if that is an appropriate term) person who serves as head butler in some of hte contexts that our chef is employed seems to have stolen his attitude from Hyzy's characters as well, though here what is often an annoying person is, perhaps, completely lacking in ethics.
Leith's plot pivots on the ways public lives and private passions (to sound just a tad like a soap opera) intersect. Most crucially, the distinction between "gutter press" and press per se becomes worthy of some reflection as events build, as do the unintended (and intended) consequenes in the lives of the not-so-public figures whose lives intersect with politicians and celebrities of all sorts. One does, though, wonder as one reads about whether Leith fully intended to say what I heard: when trapped by a media circus, especially when famous, you are powerless? Strikes me as unlikely. PAssivity on the part of one of the main characters is
What about the food, you ask? Kate (the chef/caterer) is known for good ingredients and simple fare. This gets repeated throughout the book in various iterations. A part of this is a political implication that some high flying food and high flying politicians are about self indulgence rather than a more poulist approach, regardless of party. Thus the [SPOILER ALERT] good guy prefers simpler fare, well presented and with great ingredients.
Born in South Africa, Leith is also an author and a television type. She has written her memoirs (as discussed here) and a variety of other books. And, she is a CBE -- if you know or care what that means. What perhaps is most relevant to making some sense of this book -- which, I have to admit, I enjoyed, expeting not to given its somewhat Halrequin-like exterior -- is her own "late in life" adventures. (For details, see this link.)
Here is a UK review, since it is a UK book! and below, because something is messed up are multiple routes to the same piece on veal. Hmmm. Repetition -- is it a good thing?