Warning: do not read this book while hungry! The food descriptions are scrumptious, unique, and irresistible. Culinary expertise and innovation overflow through the pages.
A gender-flipped retelling of the musical My Fair Lady and its predecessor, the play Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw, My Fine Fellow follows the intense efforts of two young English women, students at a culinary institute called the Royal Academy of Culinaria Artisticus, to remold a scruffy young man selling empanadas on the streets of 1830s London into a gentleman food chef. One of the young women intends this transformation to be her culinary school graduation project. Working against the clock on upgrading his clothing, speech, manners, and food prep skills, they encounter challenges both imagined and unexpected. Romance sweetens the air and adds an intoxicating spice to every aspect of the book.
The characters are delightful and the prejudices, including antisemitism, as well as the history of the times, are as skillfully portrayed as the instructions for proper ways to cut strawberries and onions.
The author shares one recipe at the end of the story, as sweet and delicious as the book itself: chocolate coconut empanadas!
Award-winning journalist and freelance writer, Helen Weiss Pincus, has taught memoir writing and creative writing throughout the NY Metro area to senior citizens and high school students. Her work has been published in The New York Times, The Record, The Jewish Standard, and other publications. She recently added “Bubby” to her job description.