An interesting, inspiring, but ultimately uneven account of Bill Buford's culinary adventure.
This book is partly a memoir of master-chef Mario Batali, partly a history of Italian cooking, and partly a treaty on food philosophy. I think BB didn't know what he intended this book to be because he didn't know what he intended his personal journey to be. BB doesn't want to own a restaurant, become a professional chef, or give up his writer's life to become a butcher in Italy... he seems to just want to know more about food and cooking, but specifically, he wants to learn the things that no one else does. There is a bit of a "mid-life crises" feel to the entire narrative.
This book makes a nice, madcap companion book to The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals
. BB's personal theorizing on the importance and goodness of slow food versus the ultimately destructive nature of "fast food" (on pages 199-200, for a quick look) goes hand-in-hand with Polan's writings.