The School of Essential Ingredients
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The School of Essential Ingredients (The School of Essential Ingredients #1)

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3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  13,709 ratings  ·  2,881 reviews
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 inclu...more
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published January 22nd 2009 by Putnam Adult (first published January 1st 2009)
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Chocolat by Joanne HarrisThe School of Essential Ingredients by Erica BauermeisterLike Water for Chocolate by Laura EsquivelMy Life in France by Julia ChildJulie and Julia by Julie Powell
Nouvelle Cuisine
2nd out of 290 books — 165 voters
Chocolat by Joanne HarrisLike Water for Chocolate by Laura EsquivelGarden Spells by Sarah Addison AllenThe School of Essential Ingredients by Erica BauermeisterThe Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
Foodie Novels
4th out of 96 books — 98 voters


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Community Reviews

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Lisa Kelsey
Hmmmm...I see a lot of people here liked this book. For me the writing style was almost embarrassingly florid, and simile-laden. WAY too saccherine for me.
Brenda
The School of Essential Ingredients is a story of a cooking class, but is oh so much more! The spices, smells, textures, and flavors throughout the book are used as connection points to the students, their lives, memories, needs, and secrets. As you read this book, you get a warm, cozy feeling from it that lingers with you. You can almost smell and taste right through the book.

This is a book I probably would never have picked up, and if I had, it would have taken a long time for me to finally t...more
Jackie
***oops--I misposted this review with the wrong book earlier this week. Sorry! I'm blaming holiday craziness!



This is a glorious book. It's about food as a touchstone and a means for memory, community, nurturing, healing, loving, seduction, sustenance, pleasure, joy, beginning, endings--life. It is the story of a cooking class that learns far more than culinary skills at the hands of a chef whose wisdom is not limited to food stuffs. The language is lush and decadent, rolling off the page and int...more
Michele
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 har...more
Amanda
The School of Essential Ingredients is a quick read focused on a Monday night cooking class held at a popular local restaurant, Lillian's. Lillian herself presides over these classes and, as someone who has always had an intrinsic understanding of the power of food to heal and comfort, she eagerly awaits each new class to see the transformations (some positive, some negative) that her students undergo as they respond to the food around them. The novel opens as Lillian welcomes her new students:...more
Margitte
I am not sure if this book can be called a culinary exercise in poetic philosophy. But if it can work, then that is what I feel it is. Add a touch of fairyland and a dollop of romance to it and the end result is a gentle, dreamy, adventure into vegetables and meat.

Lilian runs a restaurant and offers cooking classes on Monday evenings when her business is closed. Through her teachings she is changing the lives of the participants who all came for different reasons to attend the lessons. They all...more
JoAnn/QuAppelle
While I did finish this book, mainly to read about the food, this topic has been done before and done better, I think (by Joanne Harris and Sarah Addison Allen). I did not mind the magical realism (I am a fan of Alice Hoffman's, after all!) but the writing left a lot to be desired. I found the writing repetitious and the author used FAR TOO MANY SIMILES. By the middle of the book I was mentally groaning every time I encountered yet another simile.

Another thing that annoyed me was her over-use o...more
Carrie
Jan 07, 2009 Carrie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2008
When an ARC arrives at my house, it usually goes in the stack of ARCs waiting to be read. But recently, I have cut down on ARC requests and have been diligently making my way through them. I’m pretty sure I only have one left in the stack to read. So, when The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister arrived on Tuesday, it was serendipitous timing - I had just finished Blindspot, and hadn’t picked up another book yet.

I started it Tuesday night, staying up way too late reading. It gr...more
Monica!
Normally, friends, I try not to read “food books.” Not just cook books, but books where food plays a major role—think Chocolat, or the novelization of that one movie with what’s-her-head and the guy from Boondock Saints where her cooking is magical and there’s a crab. (Also, not mysteries surrounding food. "The Cupcake Caper!" "The Meatloaf Murder!" I just… I hate those books.)

This is because I spend the vast majority of my time trying not to be horking food in my mouth like a crazed uncaring fo...more
K8e
This book was AMAZING!!!!! I was hungry while reading it, and hungry for more when I finished. Congrats to Erica for writing such an amazing first novel. I loved the how each chapter was a different characters point of view about their life and how they ended up in Lillian's cooking class. There were some of the best pieces of advice within the pages of this book. I think it really appeals to people who cook, or don't cook for that matter (like me) but now I want to really start learning how and...more
miaaa
It probably sounds a bit sad that I actually give this book to myself as a Christmas present lol but I sometimes tend to be quite melancholy around Christmas,

First, I couldn't go home as every resources are reserved for my sister's wedding next February
Second, not going home means I couldn't ask mum to cook all her special dishes for me oh especially those sour-sweet shrimps oh yummy
Three, Christmas means baking cookies for the whole family oh yeah I can bake cookies hehe but maybe this time I...more
Hilda
Apr 26, 2010 Hilda rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Hilda by: drama queen
Shelves: romance
Setiap makanan memiliki keajaiban.

Lillian mempercayainya, dan itulah alasan ia membuka kursus memasak di restorannya setiap Senin malam. Setiap muridnya memiliki alasan tersendiri berada di sana. Alasan yang berbeda-beda, dan masalah yang juga berbeda. Tapi perlahan, semuanya disembuhkan dengan sihir sederhana, tapi sering kali dilupakan. Masakan, dan cinta yang perlahan tumbuh dalam setiap suapan, adukan, dan taburan dalam kebersamaan mereka.

Isabelle, yang telah melupakan banyak hal dalam hidup...more
indri
#2011-29#

yang didapat ketika baca buku ini = lapar.

masakannya enak-enak, kelas restoran, dan banyak resep italia favoritku, canneloni dengan saus yang menetes-netes, taart coklat berwarna putih, kepiting saus lemon.

penguasa-penguasa dapur yang bikin teringat ketika baca buku ini :

1. Burger Blenger.
Sudah pernah nyoba? Kalau menurut saya, rasanya enaakk sekali. Dagingnya yang dipanggang sampai empuk, tebal dan mantep lah (sangat jauh beda dengan mcD punya), sayurannya kyuri jepang yang segar dan t...more
K
Jul 06, 2011 K rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Someone far less jaded than I
Shelves: cooking, ebooks, chicklit
I have read way, way too many books like this. Several random individuals end up meeting regularly (in this case for a cooking class) and gradually bonding. Each character comes with his own set of traumas and in each chapter we meet a different one and learn his story, interspersed with the teacher's deep philosophical food musings as she demonstrates cake, turkey, or whatever (such pithy gems as, the flour is like the guy at the party who you don't realize is sexy until the end -- huh?). The t...more
Tattered Cover Book Store
This is a glorious book. It's about food as a touchstone and a means for memory,community, nurturing, healing, loving, seduction, sustenance, pleasure, joy, beginning, endings--life. It is the story of a cooking class that learns far more than culinary skills at the hands of a chef whose wisdom is not limited to food stuffs. The language is lush and decadent, rolling off the page and into your mind like a drug. I could taste, smell, see and feel everything as if I was indeed standing at the prep...more
Traci
The School of Essential Ingredients is more than a cooking school. Chef and instructor Lillian proves it's a chance to rediscover your own life. The School of Essential Ingredients allows readers a peak into the life of each student and we watch with pleasure as their worlds realign and come together.

While nothing earth-shattering really happnes here, the pacing is beautiful--it reads so quickly, but has that lovely, languid slowness that I crave on a January afternoon. This is a perfect read fo
...more
Joanna
A cabin weekend read, recommended (sadly) by NPR. I ended up reading parts aloud to Mara and Abby while we all read by the lake this weekend, because the writing was so florid (and because a grieving husband makes a very creepy tribute to his dead wife, involving her ashes and a cake served to her mourning friends).
The author made a rookie mistakes of writing from the perspectives of all of the characters while maintaining the florid, simile-laden language with every character, so you are force...more
Rory
I've given 5-star ratings to a lot of books I've really liked. But "The School of Essential Ingredients" is on a totally different plane. This is a novel of pure love, toward food and toward life. I've never said this in any other review I've written either on here or in my movie reviews: This book will change your life, no matter if you simply read it straight through without much reaction. Scenes will creep into your memory at times you never expected. If you're not a foodie, you'll become a b...more
Sharmeela
May 06, 2011 Sharmeela rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone looking for a breezy read without much substance
Recommended to Sharmeela by: Zuriel
Everything about this book was just okay to me. I found it to be very boring, predictable, all loose ends neatly tied by the finish. The descriptions of the food sounded delectable, but other than that all the story lines were pretty bland. Each student in Lilian's cooking class was conveniently broken in some two-dimensional way and under the spell of food and Lilian (doing her best fairy-godmother imitation) waving her magic wand, everything was miraculously right in the world again.
Not only w...more
Mary
I can appreciate what the author was trying to express – the power of food to reach people and bring them back to their essence. It could have been a great story had it been executed better. There were way too many metaphors and similes, and the writing was too flowery and sickeningly sweet for my taste. It seemed as if everything was "perfect" in this novel – the ripe tomato, the shape of pasta, the scent of bread. Everything mundane was taken to the extreme. I suppose that may have been the au...more
Kerry
This book is what happens to a culture that is saturated by “reality TV.” Each character gets his or her moment in the spotlight only to fade away into the background once their turn is over. We don’t get much depth of anyone’s personality, history, or goals; instead, we get a series of short stories, each with a happy ending.

Somewhat reminiscent of A Visit from the Goon Squad and Olive Kitteridge, The School of Essential Ingredients features a different character in each chapter. Unfortunately,...more
Penguin Canada
I admit, I am the Marketing Director for Penguin, but you need to trust me on this one because I bought and read this book a full year before I started working at Penguin. I promise.

I read The School of Essential Ingredients in one fell swoop, on one plane-ride. In fact, I picked it up based entirely on the cover (gorgeous) and the fact that it was a novel about cooking (my favourite kind).

But I was, in fact, delighted to find that the book was more than just a pretty face: Erica Bauermeister is...more
Kate
I won this book in the GoodReads give-away and was kind of hesitant to read it as it had the possibility of being either good or extremely bad. It was not a complete waste of my time.
The book itself goes through the life stories, chapter by chapter of all of the students brought together by a cooking class. Some of the stories are extremely sweet, others lame. And of course, everything comes together neatly in the end.
My only criticism of the author is that I thought she was trying too hard. T...more
Jann Barber
Very quick read.

Eight people take a cooking class at Lillian's restaurant: Claire, now defining herself as a mother; Carl and Helen, an older couple (she had an affair during their marriage); Antonia, a kitchen designer who came to America because she needed to start again; Tom, a widower for about a year, still grieving; Chloe, a teen who feels she's a misfit; Ian, a software engineer; and Isabelle, who is showing signs of dementia.

They each have a chapter that tells their story, and each chapt...more
Rebecca McKinnon
One of the best parts of this book turned out to be the thing I was a little wary of before starting it: every chapter is from a different character's viewpoint. I'm a people-watcher. I love to guess where people are going and why. This book takes that idea and actually gives you the answers. We get a glimpse into all these people's lives.

I was surprised how much I liked the story. It's a very quick read--I just got the copy yesterday afternoon and I'm already done. The descriptions, especially...more
Holli
i won this book on a Goodreads giveaway and boy oh boy was it good. I loved it!! This book has wonderful characters that i loved and would enjoy learning more about, words and phrases that were delectable, and a story that wrapped you up and made you feel you were there at cooking school.......learning how to crack a crab shell or combine flavors to make the perfect red sauce. Highly recommend!!
Susan
If you appreciate the concept of the Slow Food Movement and cooking without recipes you'll love this book. Definitely one of my all time favorites. A great weave of food and characters. I loved putting the book down and climbing out of bed to zest some orange peel in a cup of fresh hot chocolate.
Kim
received the book for free through Goodreads First Reads

My first impression of the book was that it would be awful. I do not like books about food written by people who can cook. I love food, I love cookbooks (that's the exception), but an actual story about food... I haven't had many good reading experiences of those kind.

When I started the book, I got the impression that "Lillian" was going to be pretentious and snitty about cooking. However, throughout the book, she evolved into a very intuit...more
Kathy (Bermudaonion)
Lillian’s father left her family when she was four years old and her mother turned to books for solace. I can certainly understand why, but her daughter was left feeling neglected. Lillian turned to preparing special foods to try to get her mother’s attention. Thus starting a lifelong love of food and cooking.

As an adult, Lillian opened a restaurant. Once a month, on Mondays when the restaurant is closed, Lillian conducts a series of cooking classes. The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica...more
an
satu bintang untuk cover na, satu lagi buat kompisisi na. 2 bintang total... it's wak ok.

secara keseluruhan tidak terlalu tertarik. mungkin karena kisah na cukup sederhana. seperti masakan yang mencoba menggabungkan bahan-bahan yang berasal dari banyak sumber, demikian juga kelas memasak ini. setiap anggota na memiliki kisah masing-masing, latar belakang masing-masing dan alasan masing-masing untuk bisa berada di kelas tersebut.

kapasitas kelas yang hanya terdiri dari 8 orang membuat peserta dan...more
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Erica Bauermeister is the bestselling author of the novel The School of Essential Ingredients and the upcoming novel Joy For Beginners (June 9, 2011). The School of Essential Ingredients is currently being published in 22 countries and Joy For Beginners was recently selected to be performed as part of the New Short Fiction Series in Los Angeles (June 12, 2011). Erica Bauermeister received a B.A. f...more
More about Erica Bauermeister...
Joy For Beginners The Lost Art of Mixing 500 Great Books By Women A Year of the Unexpected Bauermeister's The School of Essential (The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister (Paperback - Jan. 5, 2010))

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