Wednesday, February 6, 2013
The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister
This is a wonderful book. If you love food and cooking this is the book for you!
Once a month Lillian has a cooking class at her restaurant. This book draws the stories of the students in the cooking class together with the love of food and cooking and each other. The students are Claire, a young mother with no time for herself; Carl and Helen, the long married couple, whom seem to have the perfect marriage; Antonia, an Italian woman who came to America four years ago; Ian, a lonely man looking for something; Tom, a recent widower; Chloe, a young woman trying to find her place and Isabelle, a woman losing herself in memories. The story of Chef Lillian and how she found food.
Lillian loved best the moment before she turned on the lights. She would stand in the restaurant kitchen doorway, rain-soaked air behind her, and let the smells come to her – ripe sourdough yeast, sweet-dirt coffee, and garlic, mellowing as it lingered. Under them, more elusive, stirred the lingering essence of fresh meat, raw tomatoes, cantaloupe, water on lettuce. Lillian breathed in, feeling the smells move about and through her, even as she searched out those that might suggest a rotting orange at the bottom of a pile, or whether the new assistant chef was still double-dosing the curry dishes. She was. The girl was a daughter of a friend and good enough with knives, but some days, Lillian thought with a sigh, it was like trying to teach subtlety to a thunderstorm.
But tonight was Monday. No assistant chefs, no customers looking for solace or celebration. Tonight was Monday, cooking class night.
After seven years of teaching, Lillian knew how her students would arrive on the first night of class – walking through the kitchen door alone or in ad hoc groups of two or three that had met up on the walkway to the mostly darkened restaurant, holding the low, nervous conversations of strangers who will soon touch one another’s food. Once inside some would clump together, making those first motions toward connection, while others would roam the kitchen, fingers stroking brass pots or picking up a glowing red pepper like small children drawn to the low-hanging ornaments on a Christmas tree.
Read more here.