jwpoole, August 30, 2008 (view all comments by jwpoole)
I love books about cooking. I really love books that include recipes. This book has both the story and the food. This is an account of a women's dream to go to the world famous Le Cordon Bleu in Paris to study cooking. It is sometimes very funny some times sad. An excellent behind the scenes look at what happens and what it takes to get through this program. And all this happens far from the author's home in the US. A wonderful and entertaining story of one persons courage and determination to follow their dream. It will entertain and inspire you.
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annagrayscott, July 16, 2007 (view all comments by annagrayscott)
A friend in the book world gave me an advance copy of this book as I?m going to culinary school this fall after a 12-year career in real estate. This is a terrifically entertaining account of an experience most people can only dream about -- attending Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. The behind-the-kitchen door account of life at the school is fascinating, but, her story goes beyond that, as she figures out who she is and what she wants from life. I really identified her.
Like Elizabeth Gilbert in ?Eat, Pray, Love? this author has enormous wit, and is not afraid of humor at her own expense, whether its dealing with kitchen fumbles or the trouble caused by her own (initially) poor French. There are many touching, emotional passages as well, such as when she talks about her sister, who never had the chance to live her dream of attending the Sorbonne due to a tragic family illness. The story follows her lessons at school as she weaves cooking tips, chef tricks and culinary history that teach as you read, and layers that on top of messages about love and life. All in all, it?s just a wonderful book, and is so fast-paced that before I knew it, I?d read it in two days.
Each chapter has a recipe a la ?Like Water for Chocolate?. In a way, this reminded me of that that book with its connections between love and cooking, although I can see other, more obvious comparisons to ?Under the Tuscan Sun? or ?Making of a Chef?.
I think a lot of women will identify with this story, whether they cook or not.
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"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"'When the author, an American journalist and software executive working in London, is sacked from her high-powered job, she enrolls as a student at the Cordon Bleu school in Paris. With limited cooking skills and grasp of the French language, she gamely attempts to master the school's challenging curriculum of traditional French cuisine. As if she didn't have enough on her plate eviscerating fish and knocking out pt choux, she determines to write a book about her experience and gets married along the way. The result is a readable if sentimental chronicle of that year in Paris in which her love life is explored in great detail, dirty weekends and all, and cooking features as a metaphor for self-discovery. Some readers may feel disappointed that the narrator's encounters with French cookery remain largely confined to her lessons at the Cordon Bleu. On those rare occasions when she ventures into the food-obsessed city, the descriptions of meals are glancing at best. Although her struggles with the language and lack of knowledge about the culture lend comic elements to the story (once, trying to order a pizza over the phone, she said, 'Je suis une pizza' — I am a pizza), they, too, constrain the author's culinary explorations. (Oct.)' Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
by Kirkus Reviews,
"The book is best when [Flinn] sticks to cooking, France's culinary history, diverse regional traditions and the challenges of meeting the impeccable standards of Le Cordon Bleu's demanding chefs. A fascinating look inside a famed elite institution."
A delicious memoir from the author of The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry
In this family history interwoven with recipes, Kathleen Flinn returns readers to the mix of food and memoir beloved by readers of her bestselling The Sharper Your
Knife, the Less You Cry. Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good explores the very beginnings of her love affair with food and its connection to home. It is the story of her midwestern childhood, its memorable home cooks, and the delicious recipes she grew up with. Flinn shares tales of her parentsand#8217; pizza parlor in San Francisco, where they sold Uncle Clarenceand#8217;s popular oven-fried chicken, as well as recipes for the vats of chili made by her former army cook Grandpa Charles, fluffy Swedish pancakes from Grandma Inez, and cinnamon rolls for birthday breakfasts. Through these dishes, Flinn came to understand how meals can be memories, and how cooking can be a form of communication. Brimming with warmth and wit, this book is sure to appeal to Flinnand#8217;s many fans as well as readers of Marcus Samuelsson, Ruth Reichl, and Julie Powell.
The prequel to Kathleen Flinn's unforgettable account of her French culinary adventures - Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good - is available this August!
Kathleen Flinn was a thirty-six-year-old middle manager trapped on the corporate ladder - until her boss eliminated her job. Instead of sulking, she took the opportunity to check out of the rat race for good - cashing in her savings, moving to Paris, and landing a spot at the venerable Le Cordon Blue cooking school.
The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry is the funny and inspiring account of her struggle in a stew of hot-tempered, chefs, competitive classmates, her own "wretchedly inadequate" French - and how she mastered the basics of French cuisine. Filled with rich, sensual details of her time in the kitchen - the ingredients, cooking techniques, wine, and more than two dozen recipes - and the vibrant sights and sounds of the markets, shops, and avenues of Paris, it is also a journey of self-discovery, transformation, and, ultimately, love.
Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at Powells.com.