I heard an interesting piece on the radio the other day: a recent study revealed that women are attracted to men who do housework. The male announcers found this information hilarious and assumed that some powerful feminist organization had funded the study. But the truth was out: men who do housework are hot. Later that day, I read Flavor of the Week, in which teenage boys learn the power of food to lure the objects of their affections. Coincidence? I think not.
Cyril Bartholomew, shy and overweight, is a cooking genius. More comfortable in the kitchen than he is anywhere else, Cyril spends his time concocting recipes, reading cookbooks and working at the nearby American Institute of Culinary Arts, where he hopes to study after he graduates from high school. Cooking, besides providing him with piles of calorie-laden comfort food, is his ticket to success. But Cyril is no fool. He knows that kids at school would make fun of him if they knew about his passion, so he keeps his talent and his dreams for the future to himself. Sweet Cyril is the perfect boy-who-is-just-a-friend for beautiful Rose Mulligan. Rose confides in him about her romances and breakups. Little does she know that Cyril spends the better part of his cooking time fantasizing about her. When his pal Nick (a.k.a. “the supermodel”) moves back to town, Cyril watches painfully as his two beautiful friends fall for each other. But there’s a catch: Rose loves food, too, and Nick wants to cook for her. Anyone who has read Cyrano de Bergerac knows what’s coming next. Despite the connection to that legendary story, Tucker Shaw’s tale is as fresh as newly harvested green beans. The recipes that complement each chapter add to the story, and the characters are bright, complicated and familiar. The devastation that drives Cyril to eat an entire loaf of bread and sugar sandwiches brought me right back to my high school days, when I salved my own heartbreak with toasted almond fudge ice cream. Shaw has written a delightful story of innocent romance, heartbreak, growing up and good food that will leave his readers hoping for seconds.