Sarah'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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's review
Jan 09, 2012

really liked it
Read in January, 2012

I will be completely honest, when the tale of this story was related to Mario Batali or his restaurant, Babbo, I really didn't care for this book. Once Buford went to Italy and Tuscany I really got into the book. Is this book 4 star quality, no. Since I can't give 3.5 or 3.75 then 4 is the closest because it isn't wholely a 3 star book either. When Buford goes to Italy to learn how to make pasta the traditional way the story begins the adventure and as he repeatedly goes back to Italy/Tuscany it furthers that food is an essential part of family. By that i mean, the people take their food prep skills very seriously and nothing short of perfect is acceptable, almost like the daunting approval seeking relationship between a child and parent. The people that teach Buford skills that he will remember for a life time become his family and friends. Simple gestures like leaving his knife steel is seen as an act of pride and true friendship. The people Buford met on his journey are people that he probably still keeps in contact with and sees on a semi-regular basis. When he wrote about them, I got the impression, these people truly touched his life and left their mark forever on his history. It was almost as if i went with Buford on his journeys and was standing beside him being the same keen student he was, sucking in the knowledge these incredible people had to offer or at least allowed him to have the privilege of seeing.

The reason i didn't like the Mario Batali parts: i found him to be a pompus character (even when watching him on tv, which is very impersonal, i find him to be unbareable, so this indepth time with him was a bit much.), the restaurant lifestyle is so fast paced and it's almost like there is a revolving door on the industry (if you can't hack it move on to the next place that will try you and chalk up your abilities. Those were the main two reasons. I found it sad that Buford held Batali in such high regard but in the same sentence some of the things Batali does......he is a flavour genius.

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