Thursday, July 23, 2009

Book Review: The School of Essential Ingredients

The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister

The School of Essential Ingredients follows the lives of eight students who gather in Lillian’s Restaurant every Monday night for cooking class. It soon becomes clear, however, that each one seeks a recipe for something beyond the kitchen. Students include Claire, a young mother struggling with the demands of her family; Antonia, an Italian kitchen designer learning to adapt to life in America; and Tom, a widower mourning the loss of his wife to breast cancer. Chef Lillian, a woman whose connection with food is both soulful and exacting, helps them to create dishes whose flavor and techniques expand beyond the restaurant and into the secret corners of her students’ lives. One by one the students are transformed by the aromas, flavors, and textures of Lillian’s food, including a white-on-white cake that prompts wistful reflections on the sweet fragility of love and a peppery heirloom tomato sauce that seems to spark one romance but end another. Brought together by the power of food and companionship, the lives of the characters mingle and intertwine, united by the revealing nature of what can be created in the kitchen.

In short, I found this book boring. A few of the individuals stories just skimmed because I found them uninteresting and I was excited to move onto a new book. I also found I didn't believe all of the powers that food had on the class memebers. I love cooking and I love food I just didn't believe it could help every person in the class find what they were searching for in life.

Rating: 2 out of 5

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