Current Issue: Monday, March 27th, 2017

Interrobang

Interrobang Archives

Cooking is not as innocent as it seems in Macauley's The Cook

Credit: TEXT PUBLISHING

There's more to cooking than 30-second cooking videos on Facebook, and The Cook doesn't shy away from it.


Thomas James Sayers | Interrobang | Lifestyles | March 20th, 2017




Come for the gourmet food information, stay for the story of exploitation and late-stage capitalism.

Wayne Macauleyís novel The Cook has just the right amount of social satire to make it a quick read while still provoking thought about the food and service industry.

The Cook opens with Zac, the novelís narrator, arriving at a massive farm.

He and 12 others are part of a program that turns troubled delinquents into top-of-the-line chefs. Under the watch of Terry Fabian, and the terrifying head chef, Zac learns the ins and outs of fine dining and he dreams of opening his own restaurant and rising to the top of his trade.

However, students and teachers begin to drop out left and right. Zac is whisked away to a mansion in the middle of the night, where heís tasked with cooking for a wealthy family. There, he continues his quest to rise above the rest and become the best chef he can be.

Therein lies one of the resounding messages of the novel: simple dreams will always be tainted and manipulated. Whether this manipulation comes from inside or externally, however, is up for debate. As a reader, you get the experience of seeing firsthand how ambition clouds Zacís thinking.

The first-person narration and its unique style is one of the most interesting parts of the novel, punctuation of any kind is rare. You will most likely find yourself skimming sentences or paragraphs while reading; this book will drag that habit out of you.

It takes a bit of time to get used to, but it ultimately feels more personal and intimate. You really know that Zac is telling the story exactly how he sees and feels it. Oddly enough, the lack of punctuation makes descriptions poetic, it almost gives every word the same amount of importance.

Itís an odd sort of poeticism, not the flowery kind youíd see describing romance. Thereís no shying away from the brutality involved in creating the perfect dish. Cooking is treated like an art, but itís described like an act of violence. Itís an odd dissonance, but it really makes you appreciate the effort and sacrifices made in almost every single meal prepared.

Zac doesnít seem to mind the violence involved in cooking, and if anything seems to be indifferent to it. The descriptions are so numb and presented with a lack of awareness. Thereís a dark underbelly of extremely fine dining explored in this book.

The book also exposes some of the hierarchical issues rampant in late stage capitalism in an increasingly satirical tone. Money seems to be no object, with the finest ingredients being purchased indefinitely on credit. Thereís no promise of ever paying back all the dues owed; the Master is a wealthy businessman, so he should share that wealth where itís due, right?

There are many injustices committed in this novel, and most of them should be experienced best by simply reading the book. The ending is one of the most grotesque and intriguing twists in recent years, and no more will be said about it. It truly must be experienced firsthand.

If youíve ever watched a 30-second cooking video on Facebook and wondered what extreme fine dining is like, this book will give you all that you need to know, and more than you ever wanted to know.

Comments
No comments have yet been made about this article.

Add your own comment

Your Name:


Your Comments:


Security Question:
FSU stands for Fanshawe ______ Union (answer found at top and bottom of page)


Note: comments posted may be used in a future issue of the Interrobang. Comments deemed to be inappropriate, obscene, racist or libelous will not be posted on this site.


RELATED ARTICLES

The ultimate bookwork bookstore guide
Would you rather be reading a book above anything else? Do you decline going out on weekends just to spend time with a special book? Are you always having to convince your friends that the book is always better than the movie? Read more

How the rise of gluten-free and vegan options affects peope with food allergies
According to the Allergy, Genes and Environment Network (Allergen), about 2.5 million Canadians have at least one food allergy. Restaurants, bakeries and other food and beverage businesses are working to be more accommodating. Read more

Gone Girl presents alternative facts of marriage
Gillian Flynn's novel Gone Girl is an electrifying thriller with a perfect mix of underlying media commentary. The title of the book should be familiar as a film adaptation was released in 2014 starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike. Read more

Dealing with workplace conformity in Jonas Karlsson's The Room
It's no surprise that a lot of fiction has been written on the topic of office culture considering the number of people who spend most of their lives working there. Read more

The consequences of immortality: looking at Drew Magary's The Postmortal
What would really happen if immortality were achieved? Drew Magary's novel The postmortal offers a bleak, if not painfully realistic, look at the implications of eternal life. Read more