This is going to be yet another book that will have me hunting up other biographies. I'm assuming it was a somewhat difficult book to write because Antonin Careme has a lot of blanks in his personal life (more on that in the review), and there's just not a lot of documentation to dig up on them. Which is true of a LOT of biographies of people who lived during the French Revolution when a lot of documentation was destroyed. Though when you start life as a orphan living on the streets there wouldn't be much documentation of that anyway.
What is very clear is how many famous people Careme cooked for during his life, and how many wanted very much to have him as their personal chef. He was definitely a celebrity, and it's fascinating. However equally fascinating are some tidbits that the author (Ian Kelly) shares about the people who Careme worked for - and it has everything to do with humorous asides.
Of course I have a quote! How could I resist? Also I have to share with someone what I've been snickering over. The historical snark is in the last bit of the quote - like I needed to even point that out. Also see the wiki link (on his name) for a painting of Stewart in uniform.
Charles Stewart (1778-1854) had just been appointed British ambassador to Vienna. The dandy who had made something of an ass of himself at the Congress of 1814-15, fighting with cab drivers and goosing debutantes at the Opera, was maturing into a respectable diplomat. ...
...Like Careme's previous employers Tallyrand and the Prince Regent, Stewart loved a uniform. He wore them well. One of his several conquests in Vienna in 1814, the Duchess de Sagan, had nicknamed him the 'Golden Pheasant' for his love of yellow riding boots, and 'Big Lord Pumpernickel,' for reasons unrecorded."
And so who am I thinking I need a biography of after that quote? Oh the Duchess first (of course), then Stewart. No idea if Stewart had as much wit as the lady, but he was apparently always getting into...things, which would lead to fodder for witty folk of the times. Problem will be that at a glance much of the Duchess' biographies aren't in English, so I'll have to settle for Stewart.
[A future problem will be that I'll wonder why I have a book for Charles Stewart on my email notification list. Too bad I can't somehow tag it with "Charles Stewart = Big Lord Pumpernickel" because that I'll remember immediately!]