Thanks in part to my Emily project, I’ve been branching out into some different genres and reading levels lately. I had been looking for awesome Emilys in fiction, like, say, a pirate queen. While I didn’t find one by that name, in the process I did come across Hannah Mabbot, the notorious pirate queen of Eli Brown’s Cinnamon and Gunpowder.
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. …Eli Brown has crafted a uniquely entertaining novel full of adventure: the Scheherazade story turned on its head, at sea, with food.
Thanks to the Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise, pirates remain more popular than ever (well, besides ninjas, of course, but that’s an age-old debate), but somehow I hadn’t gotten around to reading many books about them until now. I couldn’t have picked a better book to start with. The pirate crew here is rough around the edges yet each have their surprising secrets and foibles, their queen is fierce and larger than life, and the descriptions of Owen’s culinary masterpieces never failed to make my mouth water. It was the perfect adventure.