Peter Elbling has lead what seems an interesting and varied live. A founder of the Times Square Two, a frequent guest of TV shows like Taxi and WKRP in Cincinnati, and the co-author of what would become the movie, Honey I Blew Up the Kid.
In 2003, he published his first novel, The Food Taster, telling the story of Ugo DiFonte and his teenaged daughter Miranda as they 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.
I’ve read about half the book.
Food tasters have been used for thousands of years to sorta protect those in power from the many poisons out there. Doesn’t work so well with microorganisms like Listeria that may take six weeks to incubate, but other procedures have been developed.
There’s recurrent stories of U.S. Presidential food tasters, that are always denied, but the Food and Drug Administration does takes an
active role in food prep for the President, and especially at large political gatherings.
Maybe one of the worst jobs was as the food taster for Adolph Hitler.
Margot Woelk was one of fifteen girls who spent two-and-a-half years testing Adolf Hitler’s all-veggie diet to make sure it wasn’t poisoned, telling Stars and Stripes, “The food was delicious, only the best vegetables, asparagus, bell peppers, everything you can imagine. And always with a side of rice or pasta. But this constant fear — we knew of all those poisoning rumors and could never enjoy the food. Every day we feared it was going to be our last meal.”