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The School of Essential Ingredients

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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Reminiscent of Chocolat and Like Water for Chocolate, a gorgeously written novel about life, love, and the magic of food.

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.

Review:

"In this remarkable debut, Bauermeister creates a captivating world where the pleasures and particulars of sophisticated food come to mean much more than simple epicurean indulgence. Respected chef and restaurateur Lillian has spent much of her 30-something years in the kitchen, looking for meaning and satisfaction in evocative, delicious combinations of ingredients. Endeavoring to instill that love and know-how in others, Lillian holds a season of Monday evening cooking classes in her restaurant. The novel takes up the story of each of her students, navigating readers through the personal dramas, memories and musings stirred up as the characters handle, slice, chop, blend, smell and taste. Each student's affecting story — painful transitions, difficult choices — is rendered in vivid prose and woven together with confidence. Delivering memorable story lines and characters while seducing the senses, Bauermeister's tale of food and hope is certain to satisfy." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Synopsis:

Eight students 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.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

Denise Morland, January 26, 2009 (view all comments by Denise Morland)
This is a beautiful, warm-hearted book that is perfect for getting through the dark days of winter! Its the story of a Monday night cooking class presided over by Lillian the chef of a romantic little restaurant. Lillian knows that each of her students come for a different reason. Some come for confidence, some for adventure, and some for comfort, but each will leave with wisdom and passion they never expected to find.
Erica Bauermeister writes about food with impressive detail and feeling. This is a book that will leave you hungry for lovingly prepared, delicious food! Her writing style reminds me of Maeve Binchy. She weaves together the stories of fascinating, sympathetic characters. You will fall in love with them! Like a big bowl of homemade chicken noodle soup on a cold January night this book will leaave you warm and satisfied. I only hope that Erica is hard at work on her next novel!
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readersrespite, January 22, 2009 (view all comments by readersrespite)
Renowned chef Lillian owns a restaurant in the Pacific Northwest and every Monday night she hosts a cooking class.

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.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781135951856
Publisher:
Putnam Adult
Binding:
Hardcover
Author:
Bauermeister, Erica
Language:
English
Pages:
256

Related Subjects

The School of Essential Ingredients
0 stars - 0 reviews
$ In Stock
Product details 256 pages Putnam Adult - English 9781135951856 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "In this remarkable debut, Bauermeister creates a captivating world where the pleasures and particulars of sophisticated food come to mean much more than simple epicurean indulgence. Respected chef and restaurateur Lillian has spent much of her 30-something years in the kitchen, looking for meaning and satisfaction in evocative, delicious combinations of ingredients. Endeavoring to instill that love and know-how in others, Lillian holds a season of Monday evening cooking classes in her restaurant. The novel takes up the story of each of her students, navigating readers through the personal dramas, memories and musings stirred up as the characters handle, slice, chop, blend, smell and taste. Each student's affecting story — painful transitions, difficult choices — is rendered in vivid prose and woven together with confidence. Delivering memorable story lines and characters while seducing the senses, Bauermeister's tale of food and hope is certain to satisfy." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by , Eight students 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.
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