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Author Biography: Thomas Fox Averill has published two story collections, Passes at the Moon and Seeing Mona Naked. A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and an O. Henry Award winner, Averill is writer-in-residence and a professor of English at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas.
—Reprinted from The Secrets of the Tsil Caf: A Novel With Recipes by Fox, Thomas Averill by permission of Blue Hen, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc. Copyright (c) 2001 by Susann Cokal. All rights reserved. This excerpt, or any parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.
From the Author: In the middle of writing Secrets of the Tsil Café, I celebrated my 50th birthday. Knowing that my restaurateur, Robert Hingler, would make his 50th an extravagant experiment in culinary pleasure and odd appetite, my agent suggested I do something similar for myself. I did. My self-indulgence was to pretend Hingler's Tsil Café was catering my birthday dinner. I invited nearly twenty friends and family members to a dinner selected from that menu. My wife thought it odd that I wanted to spend my birthday cooking a five-course dinner for twenty, but I called it a "gift" to both myself and my work-in-progress novel.
Our invitation included the dinner menu: Black Bean & Gooseberry Enchiladas and Chips with Sweet Habanero Salsa for appetizers; then Potato and Green Chile Soup; then the salad course, Watercress with Roasted Sunflower Dressing; and finally the main dish--Buffalo Tongue with Chipotle Barbecue Sauce--and sides, Quinoa and Squash. My wife catered the dessert, a non-Tsil Lemon Meringue Pie. I organized, shopped, cooked happily for an entire day, and we all ate well.
By putting myself in Hingler's shoes for a day, I learned something of exotic appetites. I received both compliments and occasional silence depending on the tastes of my guests. Most of all I had the best gift this novelist could receive: a deeper well for writing Secrets of the Tsil Café.
Posted September 17, 2014
This novel is a wonderful story told from the point of view of Weston Hingler. Wes comes from two Mexican heritage parents with magnificent taste in many different types of food. Wes grows up in one old fashioned restaurant owned by his mother, Maria, and one new world restaurant by his father, Roberto. Throughout his life, Wes learns the struggles of loss, betrayal, love, and suffering. Even as cooking food as a young child, he had injuries that only helped him throughout his teenage years. He develops many enemies along the way, many which came by his parents food in the restaurants. When Wes was a teenager, his parents betray one another and he doesn't quite understand why. Although the use of the Mexican language is frequent, the story is an easy read with many new world and old fashioned recipes. Most recipes that the family make in the novel are printed in the footnotes. This coming of age story is suggested to be recommended for anyone over the age of thirteen, mainly because of the excessive vocabulary used, and the events that happen throughout the story. But anyone that reads this amazing story is sure to enjoy it, be hungry, and leave their mouth watering.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 16, 2001
This book is rich, lushious and just as spicy as the cafe it takes place in. Through the eyes of Wes, the son of Maria and Roberto Hingler, cooks and food rivals from different worlds, the delicious story developes as he grows up. Food is metaphorical for desire, fear, love, sex, pain, and growing up. You will not be able to put down this wonderful coming-of-age novel, and you may get a little hungry along the way.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 9, 2001
This book is a great story showing how intense ones family's life may be. It is a boy telling his life story growing up in the kitchens of his mother and father. He discribes how life was and all the details of the kitchen. It is great because it also has some of the recipes they talk about.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 12, 2001
Thomas Fox Averill's first published novel (following several collections of short fiction, two anthologies, and the O'Henry Prize selection) is a real gem which will appeal to all readers -- literature lovers, cooks, students, and teachers. A coming of age story, set in Kansas City, the novel traces Wes Hingler as he grows to know and understand himself against the backdrop of his mother's old world catering service and his father's new world 'Tsil Cafe.' Interspersed in the engaging narrative are the recipes of both worlds, recipes which are clear and educational and accessible for most cooks. Although most readers will not choose to cook with dog (when available), the ingredients will be readily available for most readers. Those who appreciate spice will revel in the recipes, but for the more delicate palates Averill shows how chile peppers can be sweet and subtle. Written with tenderness and affection while not holding back on life's realities, 'Secrets of the Tsil Cafe' will be a perfect selection for teachers in universities and secondary schools. The clear definition of two cultures, the search for identity, and the joy of life fully lived permeate this work and make it an ideal vehicle for classroom discussion and for the exploration (by students and readers) of the importance of family and cultural heritage. Although I am the author's brother and have to acknowledge the 'conflict of interest' in writing this review, I objectively see this as a great novel. I will be using 'Secrets of the Tsil Cafe' in my own AP English classes in Manchester (MA) and in my kitchen at home with my family. I recommend this novel with pride and enthusiasm.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.