Friday, January 17, 2014

Review: The School of Essential Ingredients

I can't believe it has taken me so long to write about my favorite book. Its about cooking, shocker I know.

I found my favorite book two years ago. Jeff and I were living in North Carolina at the time and we went on a weekend trip with his family to Beaufort.

Having pretty much only experienced the Oregon coast my entire life, the South-Eastern coast left me smitten. On this trip I drank a lot of Makers Mark and white wine (don't worry, not together,) got a ridiculous sunburn and had one of the best meals of my life (which I wrote about here.) In between the sun burn and the dinner at Blue Moon, Jeff and I wandered into a small bookstore. I heard the shop owner describing The School of Essential Ingredients to a customer.

"It's about a woman's cooking school and how her approach to food changes the lives of her students."

The girl smiled politely, said thank you and then promptly left the shop. After hearing the words "food" and "life changing" I swooped in and bought the book.

Less than twenty four hours later, I had finished it.

The School of Essential Ingredients (written by Seattleite Erica Bauermeister) is about a woman, Lillian, who opens up a small restaurant in the Northwest. One night a month, the restaurant kitchen turns into a small cooking school. Rather than focus on a specific skill or food, Lillian aims each class at a mood which she cultivates through the cooking of a particular food/meal. Each chapter of the book describes one of her students' experiences in the class. While each student (and Lillian) gets a chapter, their stories intertwine and form a wonderful story. The culinary imagery is wonderful, but the way Bauermeister shows how deeply people are affected by food is what makes this story so special.

Yes, though I have been out of school for a while, I still mark quotes and underline important lines. Old habits die hard.

If you love to read, cook and/or eat give this book a try. It is straight up wonderful.

Author: Erica Bauermeister
Category: culinary fiction

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