We are excited to introduce our brand-new segment ‘The Best TV Show You’re Not Watching’ where our writers and contributors tell you all about their favourite TV show, which just simply isn’t getting enough hype.
First up – Nicola tells us about The Cook of Castamar (La cocinera de Castamar), available to watch on Netflix.
The Cook of Castamar (La cocinera de Castamar) is a sensuous 12-part Spanish series based on a novel of the same name by Fernando J. Muñez.
Set in a sumptuous palace outside 1720 Madrid, this is the story of Clara Belmonte, an agoraphobic but exceptionally brilliant cook whose father has been unjustly imprisoned for assassination, and who now works in the kitchen of the widowed and grieving Diego, Duke of Castamar.
The kitchen is a candle-lit haven and the staff (bar one spiteful scullery maid) quickly fall under Clara’s spell: she is genuinely good, caring of others, and clever. Above stairs, the palace is exquisite in every detail, the costumes to die for, and the Duke’s family and friends no better than they should be, although Diego himself is virtuous and kind-hearted.
Of course Clara and Diego fall in love, and he seeks to save her father, but they are kept in limbo due to not only the great divide in social class between them, but a gloriously melodramatic plot driven by the scheming, wicked Marquis de Soto. It’s a splendid tale of seductions, blackmail, double-crosses, eunuchs, adultery, ruses forcing innocent parties into marriage or slavery, duels with swords, guns and knives, last-minute reprieves, and good old-fashioned murder.
There’s so much skullduggery that The Cook of Castamar is at moments a little bewildering, but it’s terrific fun, great to look at, and full of extraordinary food. And if you find yourself confused, be guided by one bemused critic who, boggled by the complex plotting, declared it a show ultimately ‘about sex’. No arguments there.
Watch The Cook of Castamar on Netflix