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The School of Essential Ingredients Hardcover – Bargain Price, January 22, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Top Customer Reviews
Through themes associated with a particular food or meal, each chapter explores one class and the life of one of the students: a mother lost in the needs of young children; a long-married couple; a kitchen designer; a young widower; a misfit teenager; a software engineer; and a woman moving into the middle stages of dementia.
The writing is sensual and lush, the stories tender and hopeful, with a magical realism evocative of Laura Esquivel's Like Water for Chocolate. Since I finished the book, I've wanted nothing more than to read the stories of the next year's class. Highly recommended.
This ability of food, and cooking, to connect people with themselves, their past and each other is the common theme of Erica Bauermeister's THE SCHOOL OF ESSENTIAL INGREDIENTS. The novel gets its title from the cooking school that Lillian, now an adult, runs on evenings when her popular, high-end restaurant is closed. On the first Monday of each month, Lillian's restaurant kitchen is filled with a colorful assortment of amateur cooks, some eager to deepen their own culinary connections, some unsure what brought them to this place.
There's Claire, who's been so smothered by the constant physical and emotional demands of being a young wife and mother that she's forgotten what it means to make time and space for her own interests. There's Carl and Helen, an older couple whose seemingly perfect marriage hides a history of betrayal, redemption and hard work. There's Tom, whose passion for food was ignited by the love of his life. And there's Isabelle, whose short-term memory is failing her in her old age, but whose rich, long life rushes back to the present when she indulges in the nourishing, delicious food Lillian's restaurant prepares.Read more ›
I found it very difficult to engage and enjoy the characters, ambience and storyline the author was weaving due to what I though was an overwhelming number of metaphors and similes used throughout each page of the book. So many, that I eventually found myself counting them and many times, there were several per page... one page after the next. It just seemed very forced.
Writing a book is such a difficult, personal accomplishment and I mean no disrepect to the author. As she continues to write, I hope the trusts her own beautiful words and descriptions to take the reader on her journeys rather than relying on the comparisons that kept taking me off course in this novel.
Yep, that's pretty much it. Sounds too simple, right?
This novel is, above all else, a beautifully written character study of each student in Lillian's class. Each character is given their own chapter and their diversity is bound to strike a chord in readers from all walks of life.
Bibliophiles everywhere will see themselves in Lillian's mother, a woman who used books to escape the harsh realities of life.
Mothers will be drawn to Claire, a young woman who gave up her identity to be a wife and mother.
Young adults seeking to find direction in this world will be drawn to Chloe, who is still trying to create an identity.
And there are more; each character more compelling than the last. Each character finds that the simple act of creating meals illuminates many of life's problems and can sometimes even provide solutions.
The story itself is not near as important as how it is told. There is a difference between writing and prose, and prose doesn't have to be difficult to read or enjoy. Bauermeister masterfully proves this again and again throughout the novel.
You find yourself revisiting passages not to understand some convoluted prose, but to savor and enjoy it.
A brilliant first novel and if you've never read a food-related novel, this is where to start. You will want to eat this book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A wonderful way to show how lives come together,interact and enjoy each other! And how each individual ended up where they are now.Published 26 days ago by Beth Cohen
A really sweet character study of the people taking a cooking class, their teacher, and how their lives are touched by the people around them and the memories evoked by the foods... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Eugene Liga
Sometimes I need a story that flows without a lot of world building or explanation or drama. This book is a beautiful expression of how food captivates, transforms, separates, and... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Iggyebab
This is the third or fourth time I have purchased this book! I keep giving them away (almost as quickly as it comes in the mail!! Read morePublished 1 month ago by maureen malleis
Charming story. Nice compilation of individual lives & their interplay during a wonderful cooking class.Published 2 months ago by Charlene R. Hazelton
In a world of fast paced cooking videos on social media, this book will steer you back to savoring time spent in the kitchen as well as the food you have prepared. Read morePublished 2 months ago by K. Headley
Easy read. if you enjoy cooking I'm sure you would appreciate many of the descriptive passages in the book.Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
Great book and for being used it is in pristine condition. Thanks!Published 3 months ago by Gadget Dude