Maureen's Reviews > Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany

Heat by Bill Buford
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Feb 02, 13

bookshelves: biography, food
Recommended for: everyone
Read in January, 2007

** spoiler alert ** This is the story of one man's ascending obsession with the world of food and cooking. Buford begins as a kitchen slave at Babo, Mario Batali's New York restaurant where he works for no money, doing the most menial of jobs. He works his way up to line cook, where his descriptions of working in the kitchen are as agitated as an overloaded pressure cooker. His descriptions of Mario Batali, the rotund, florid-faced Iron Chef, are worth the price of this book alone. Even though Batali is one of the most intense people on the planet, his passion for perfection is tempered by his great heart. "No love, no food," is more than a motto in kitchen Babo; it is a way of life. Where the story really skyrockets, though, is when Buford goes to Italy for the first time. With introductions from Batali, he ends up in rustic kitchens, trying to learn how to make perfect pasta. Back in the States, his commentary on making polenta is a masterpiece. One of the funniest parts of the book is when Buford gets a brainwave and decides to butcher a hog in his New York apartment. He ultimately ends up apprenticed to a magnificent Tuscan butcher whose exacting standards in the back room are only matched with his ardor for quoting great passages of La Divina Commedia from memory.
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