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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister

The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister
Berkley Books (Penguin)
ISBN: 978-0425232095
Published Jan 5, 2010
Trade Paperback, 270 pages

The School of Essential Ingredients is a book that celebrates life through food. Bauermeister writes with a lyrical style filled with metaphors that flow like a refreshing stream into the river. This book is so delightful and easy to read but is far from simplistic.

Lillian is the owner of a restaurant and the teacher of a cooking class called The School of Essential Ingredients. From a young age Lillian learned that food can be used to heal people. She develops this gift and deeply touches the lives of her students through her intuitive nature and her wholesome recipes. 

Once a month on a Monday night, eight students gather at Lillian's restaurant for her cooking class. Their stories are told in alternating point-of-views from each of the characters. This is not always easy to do, but Bauermeister does it deftly and remarkably so that as a reader you have the chance to get intimate with each character and experience the character's connection to each other and the cooking class.

I loved reading this book. Celebrating life through food is very much a part of the Italian culture. Antonia is one of the characters who recently immigrated from Italy and through her the reader sees the author's love for some of the best-loved foods of Italy. It brought back so many memories for me of family gatherings, cooking with my paternal grandmother, the familiar smells of my maternal grandmother's kitchen in Rome and on and on. I loved when Ian was making the tiramis├╣ because it was just the way I make it!

This beautiful book left me hungry. Hungry for cooking a special meal for my family, hungry for when my sister arrives from Switzerland in December and we will gather into my kitchen (or my other sister's) and cook up a seven course meal taking the whole day to put it all together and enjoy each other's company. Aged wine from my Dad's cellar, fresh tomato sauce made from home-grown and sun-kissed tomatoes, pasta made with my mother's loving gnarled hands, crisp vegetables drizzled with olive oil, tiramis├╣, dark chocolate, coffee laced with Sambuca...

If you love food and life, read this book.

Note: This book is rated C = clean read.
I will count this book for the following challenge: I Love Italy Reading Challenge (because of its many Italian references)

Reviewed by Laura 

Disclosure: Thanks to the publisher for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.

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