Saturday, March 27, 2010

Essential Ingredients

Reading, listening to stories, and writing are essential to a blogger’s existence (guess we can say that after many posts, however, comparative to some others…still a virtual novice). Those who blog depend on life’s fascinating everyday situations to create endless fodder for our little quips…you should know to proceed with caution when in the presence of a blogger because everything is an opportunity for a (hopefully interesting and read-worthy) post. Really.

Formerly Timid (past posts will explain this title) just read a book entitled The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister. Considering that this is a blog partly dedicated to cooking, FT thought that the title was appropriate and, if nothing else, the book had a nice cover. FT once bought a bottle of wine because the label was interesting (Château St. Something) and it was the worse bottle of wine she ever drank, so using this technique has not always been the most reliable selection method. We digress.

This is a charming little story about strangers whose lives cross when they all become students in the same cooking class. Each chapter is named for a student and, in each, we learn a bit about the past of each student and what brought them to the restaurant that serves as their classroom (the chapters go back and forth from past to present and each transition flows flawlessly to the next). The chef and teacher, Lillian, tells her students that she “doesn’t hand out recipes….you will learn what you need to do.” Lillian believes that food is a powerful gift and a provocative tonic, stimulating us to remember things that we lost in our lives and want to experience again (we’ve all had this happen, right?). When we taste or smell something for the first time in a long time, that often serves as a lovely and pleasant souvenir of a past relationship or experience. For example, the homemade pasta we sampled in Italy reminded FT of when she used to watch her grandmother make dough and roll cavatelli using the most graceful movement that FT has never been able to replicate.

The theme of this book is “recollection” providing a recipe for much more than the measuring and mixing of ingredients. A quick read and beautifully written book…perfect for the beach or a plane ride! The author of the last book we talked about, Kate Jacobs, describes this book as “The perfect recipe for escaping from life’s stresses…” Enjoy!

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