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The Food Taster
 
by
Peter Elbling
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The Food Taster

3.45  ·  Rating details ·  433 Ratings  ·  58 Reviews
Tale of evil and love set in Renaissance Italy
soft-cover
Published 2007 by Penguin (first published January 1st 2002)
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Tea Jovanović
Aug 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
Ovu knjigu objavila sam iz poštovanja prema preminulom prevodiocu, divnoj Vesni Petrović, za koju me vezuju samo lepe uspomene i divna kaferisanja... da makar njeni prevodi i dalje žive...
Mira15
Feb 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Este é um romance histórico bastante rico nas descrições, ambientes e comida.
Houve uns momentos que me cativaram mais que outros, mas, no geral, foi um livro que me deliciou e me fez dar umas boas gargalhadas.

(Opinião completa)
Ian
Sep 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Interestingly enough, i came across this book at a Dollar Tree and something about it made me want to purchase it.
Ana T.
Aug 12, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hist-italian

When Ugo DiFonte and his teenaged daughter Miranda are snatched from their farm and spirited away to Duke Federico Basillione DiVincelli’s estate, Ugo thinks life can’t get any worse… until he is forced to replace the recently de-tongued royal food taster. Now Ugo must stay alive - a difficult prospect considering the prince’s myriad of enemies and their poisons - to protect Miranda from her suitors and desires, and somehow hold the unruly court together.
A bestseller in ten countries, in this
...more
Michalyn
Dec 16, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical, fiction, 2009
A short book that seemed very long. Despite the simple linear plot, the storytelling became confused at the end. Even though Ugo, the main character faces death at every meal as a food taster, I felt that the book dragged in a lot of places because the author wasn't successfully able to maintain that tension. There were some very funny scenes littered throughout but for the most part The Food Taster just didn't seem to live up to its potential either in terms of plot or wit. I appreciated the gl ...more
Donna LaValley
The strong point was the plot, and at least the characters were dynamic (learned and changed from experiences) but none of the characters were particularly likable. There was plenty of ugly gore and violence, sex and foul language. I've read a lot of books that take place in the middle ages, all researched to varying degrees, and think this author chose to include the most scatological and murderous scenes he could to sell the book. Of interest were the physical descriptions of the palaces, town ...more
Sherelyn Ernst
I had higher hopes for this book than it met, but it was fun if you want something a little humorous with some interesting facts about food tasters (for poison, not quality control) in Italy during Medieval times. It reads much like a cartoon plays, so horrible things can happen to characters without much affecting the reader. Because of this one never feels close to any of the characters--they just aren't real--but the story is engaging and entertaining. I had hoped for the equivalent of The Pr ...more
Erica
Mar 24, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A bit more graphic and violent than I expected given the title (when there is plauge, suicide, and bestiality in the first four pages you know you are in for a ride), but probably in line with the times. Our friend Ugo and his teen daughter are taken from their farm and Ugo is ordereed to be the food taster for a Duke that everyone hates. Ugo spends his time risking being poisoned and trying to protect those around him. Despite the bordering vulgarity at times, the healthy dose of irony and surp ...more
Nelleke
Dec 26, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-ages
Een aantal jaar geleden heb ik dit boek voor het eerst gelezen, toen vond ik het geweldig. Onlangs zag ik dit boek in de kast staan en kon ik me niks meer ervan herinneren, behalve de herinnering dat het erg goed was. Soms is het beter om in die waan te blijven. Het is nog steeds een lekker wegleesboek, maar de manier van vertellen, de grofheid, sprak mij minder aan. En de hoofdpersoon Ugo, is eigenlijk maar een vervelend mannetje. Gaf ik de vorige keer 5 sterren, nu kon ik echt niet verder dan ...more
Jeffrey
I picked this book of a shelf in Fair Haven NY where it was available at a local book drop. The shelves were lined with summer reading and other fare, and you were asked to leave some money if you took a book. I found this one, and some others, and left a $20.

This is a Mad Magazine style romp through the late middle ages. It did get a bit muddles towards the end, as though the author ran out of ideas and energy, but it was a fun read - if you enjoy random violence, farting, lots of rich food, g
...more
Maria
Sep 22, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I thought I might have already reviewed this book, but maybe I didn't. I didn't like it. In fact, I didn't even finish it. I keep meaning to put a category for my choosing that says, "Didn't Care to Finish". There were several not nice words in this book, within the first 60 pages. The story seemed to intriguing, so I was very sad that I was so turned off. Lots of sex, LOTS of sexual references. Not cool.
Kendra
Feb 18, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Horrible. Didn't finish
Kris Wright
Jul 17, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookclub
Ugh...we all hated it!
Janet
Jun 08, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Disliked it so much, I couldn't even finish reading it.
Rolando Bernaus
Jul 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Una gran historia, escenas muy crudas pero el protagonista es único y te hace sentir en sus zapatos. Un libro que casi es obligatorio.
Kirsten
Jun 30, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: on-my-own
If you are serious about accuracy in historical fiction, then forget this book. If you are more into the FICTION end, this is a light, funny, entertaining book with some real food for thought thrown in.

The life of a peasant and his daughter are turned topsy-turvy when the Duke decides to make the peasant his new food taster. I think this is accurate, that people were afraid of being poisoned and used food tasters for all their meals. It is great fun to follow the evolution of a peasant to a foo
...more
Bea
Narrativa histórica emocionante. La parte didáctica-histórica de la novela para mí es lo mejor. No porque el argumento sea malo, que no lo es (aunque tampoco es brillante) sino porque gracias al contexto espacio-tiempo de este tipo de libros es donde realmente aprendo historia, que, por si no se ha notado ya, me gusta bastante. Una cosa buena que tiene esta obra es que el protagonista no es para nada el típico personaje humilde perfecto de la mayoría de las novelas, sino todo lo contrario, y est ...more
Bernarda
I finally read the book. Ugo Difonte, the food taster, tells his history in first person. He had a long journey before he became famous for being, as he described himself, the best food taster in Italy. As a food taster he developed a highly accurate sense of taste, and was capable of describing every ingredient of a dish. While he was proud of being the food taster of an important Italian duke, he also knew that his life could be terminated at any moment when he had bitten into a piece of poiso ...more
Miss Framboesa
Aug 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
O que dizer deste livro? Divertiu-me, prendeu-me e transportou-me para um ambiente e épocas diferentes. Toda a história é narrada pelo próprio Ugo, o provador do Duque Federico (ou seja, a personagem que na corte prova a comida para o caso desta estar envenenada e se estiver...hummm...) e, na minha opinião, não há como não sentir uma certa ternura ou empatia por este personagem, não só pelo modo como expressa as suas fragilidades, mas também pelo seu grau de humanidade. Um livro cheio de passage ...more
CatarinaG
Apr 18, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2006, favorites
Itália do século XVI, Ugo di Fonte é um camponês esfomeado, pai duma rapariguinha pequena e viúvo do amor da sua vida. Quando esbarra com um mal amado Duque (Frederico) torna-se, em alternativa à sua morte, seu Food Taster, já que o anterior tinha acabado de morrer...
É a vida de Ugo e da filha pelos meandros da corte e do palácio (onde nunca deixa de ser visto como um carpinteiro), pelas cozinhas e cozinhados (dos quais nada percebe pois sempre passou fome), e sempre numa lotaria de quem espera
...more
Francisco
Jul 15, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Un best seller en la acepción negativa del término, de donde provienen todos sus defectos por la falta de maestría del escritor: diálogos omnipresentes (pero confusos y mal trabajados), no dejan de pasar cosas (pero no hay una trama central con suspense que dé solidez a las subtramas), lenguaje plano e innecesariamente vulgar, ausencia casi total de investigación para la contextualización histórica...
Básicamente, habla de un campesino que entra a catavenenos por azar y de las contingencias de su
...more
Milan Perišić
Jan 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book must be one of the best books considering historical fiction + satire i have read in my life. A convincing, interesting plot lies in the core of it, while it's enriched with beautiful and elaborate descriptions of interior/exterior, various meals, personalities and social happenings. The book is heartwarming; the intelligent, charismatic, funny, devastatingly bad-lucked and easy on emotions character of Ugo DiFonte will lead you through this story of renaissance royalty, beautiful buil ...more
Sandie
This could have been an instruction booklet on how to survive the Italian Renaissance. The main character is a delightful rascal who kept me laughing as well as amazed with his "sleight of hand" tricks of survival.

If you love (1) historical fiction, (2) well written characters, (3) a story that keeps you up past midnight because you can't put it down, and (4) enough humor to bring tears to your eyes...this book is the ticket.
Yolanda
A fairy tale set in lawless 16th Century Italy where anything goes! Ugo is food taster to the Duke and each mouthful of food could be his last. It is full of gems - my favourite being out of the mouth of Ugo:- One by one the men and women leaned forward and licked the toad. I have done some things that God will judge me for, like screwing a sheep, but I have never licked a toad.
Sara
Jan 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent historical novel that captures (I think) the intrigue and danger of the medieval courts. The protagonist, a peasant is snatched up by chance to be the food taster of the king, which means he is totally disposable. But he makes his way through cunning to a respected position as cook. There is lot of black humor which I like.
Margaret
This book was much different than anything I've read for a while - part fairy tale, part almost-satire, a rollicking tale - I loved it! Quite a few twists and turns, which kind of was a given with the historical setting - life had its ups and downs in 1534. A great change of pace if you want to read something slightly unusual.
Paulamoney
Jul 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Delicious Read-
Usually sticking to biographies, science, and political subject matters I let it rest and picked up this fun, tasty, ribald tale. I won't add comment of what it is about. Others have said enough. Suffice to say that I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I hate it when a good book is over.
Seth
Jul 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Profane and violent. Not to everyone's taste, but worthwhile for readers with a dark sense of humor who like historical fiction. I would gladly read another novel by Peter Elbling, if such a thing existed.
Young-Joo Moon
Well, it's good for killing time. To be honest, it seems to be just the description of the middle ages when is so black and ridiculous to me. I've just thought that I'm glad that I wasn't given a birth at that time.
Jenna
Creative story about life as a food taster, serving a hated Duke in Corsoli, Italy. Probably takes place in 16th century. Very entertaining, could be a Shakespearian play. Vicious love triangle. His daughter is in love with the cook, the Duke is in love with his daughter...
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His debut novel The Food Taster (ostensibly Ugo DiFonte's memoir) was published in the United States in 2003.
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