The year is 1819, and the renowned chef Owen Wedgwood has been kidnapped by the ruthless pirate Mad Hannah Mabbot. He will be spared, she tells him, as long as he puts exquisite food in front of her every Sunday without fail.To appease the red-haired captain, Wedgwood gets cracking with the meager supplies on board. His first triumph at sea is actual bread, made from a sourdough starter that he leavens in a tin under his shirt throughout a roaring battle, as men are cutlassed all around him. Soon he’s making tea-smoked eel and brewing pineapple-banana cider.But Mabbot—who exerts a curious draw on the chef—is under siege. Hunted by a deadly privateer and plagued by a saboteur hidden on her ship, she pushes her crew past exhaustion in her search for the notorious Brass Fox. As Wedgwood begins to sense a method to Mabbot’s madness, he must rely on the bizarre crewmembers he once feared: Mr. Apples, the fearsome giant who loves to knit; Feng and Bai, martial arts masters sworn to defend their captain; and Joshua, the deaf cabin boy who becomes the son Wedgwood never had.Cinnamon and Gunpowder is a swashbuckling epicure’s adventure simmered over a surprisingly touching love story—with a dash of the strangest, most delightful cookbook never written. Eli Brown has crafted a uniquely entertaining novel full of adventure: the Scheherazade story turned on its head, at sea, with food.
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“You’ll savor every bite.”—Petra Mayer, NPR.org “Cinnamon and Gunpowder reads like Joss Whedon and Patrick O’Brian sailed to Copenhagen together and, after surviving a ninja attack and firefight at sea, fell in love over a seven-course meal at Noma.”—Julie Powell, author of Julie and Julia “Original and exquisite . . . Salty, smart, and sensuous. Eli Brown unfurls a pirate story that’s also an eloquent disquisition on human appetite and the mysteries of taste.”—Carolyn Cooke, author of Daughters of the Revolution “A swashbuckler of a cookbook, and a romance, too.”—BonAppétit.com “An unlikely respect blossoms between captive and captain. Quirky characters combined with the adventure of the high seas make for a novel unlike any other you've read.”—BookPage "Both sizzling and swashbuckling.”—Kirkus Reviews “Eli Brown’s Cinnamon and Gunpowder [is] a most unusual sophomore effort featuring a pirate queen and a kidnapped chef. Think Babette’s Feast meets Pirates of the Caribbean!”—Wilda Williams, Library Journal "Brown transports readers to 1819 via the narration of Owen Wedgwood. He is the renowned chef for the wealthy owner of Pendleton Trading Company, an economic powerhouse that controls the ocean-shipping lines from east to west. When the infamous pirate Mad Hannah Mabbot commandeers their ship, Wedgwood watches her murder his employer, then steal his supper. Intoxicated by Wedgwood’s skill with a skillet, Mabbot forces him to cook for his life aboard her ship where she holds him prisoner. Soon he is swept up into Mabbot’s hunt for the Brass Fox, a rival rogue. At first this quest seems purely selfish, but as Wedgwood dines weekly with the captain, he begins to see the altruism that actually motivates the battle-hardened beauty. Brown concocts a clever tale in which history, ethics, action, and romance blend harmoniously. Tantalizing descriptions of the smells and flavors of the dishes Wedgwood creates may send readers running to their spice cabinets in search of the blends he exalts in, even as they are entranced by Brown’s delectable tale."—Amber Peckham, Booklist "An early nineteenth-century tale of culinary seduction and swashbuckling antics, featuring characters who evoke the desperate ingenuity of Scheherazade and the hell-bent ruthlessness of Ahab . . . Brown explores the mysteries of flavor with prose that any word-savoring foodie will delight in . . . The story, the characters, and the ingenious battle scenes are far too colorful for moral dilemmas, which are made irrelevant when Mabbot is revealed as something of a humanitarian out to reset the wrongs of British imperialism."—Publishers Weekly
Eli Brown lives on an experimental urban farm in Alameda, California. His writing has appeared in The Cortland Review and Homewrecker: An Adultery Reader. His first novel, The Great Days, won the Fabri Literary Prize.