If you like historical fiction with a bit of suspense and the added benefit of an emphasis on food, you'll love The book of unholy mischief, by Elle Newmark. This debut novel captured my attention at once and kept me quickly reading because of the main character, Luciano, an orphan in 1498 Venice. He is raised by a kindly cook/laundress in a brothel, but she dies when he is a young boy and he's kicked out to the streets. Reading about the hardships of those times, it's amazing that humanity continued to exist in those days - but Luciano has a hopeful attitude and the reader is on his side immediately. He becomes a worker in the kitchen of the doge, and the chef there introduces him to knowledge which at the time was heretical or otherwise dangerous, but vastly interesting to the modern reader (Gnostic gospels, alchemy, the Inquisition, the New World, etc.). The descriptions of food preparation are usually mouthwatering (sometimes not!) -- but with the kindly chef, supporting characters, Luciano, the secrets contained in a hidden book, food, and the ambiance of Renaissance Venice, how could this book go wrong? This is 367 pages of fast-reading drama.
Other great books with a food theme are: The food of love and The wedding officer, both by Anthony Capella. Both of these books take place in Italy, and are quite romantic. And the food …!
The book of unholy mischief