Carrie's Reviews > The School of Essential Ingredients

The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister
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Jan 07, 09

bookshelves: 2008
Read in December, 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 grabbed me immediately, the food metaphors rolling around in my brain and making me hungry. Bauermeister’s writing is lyrical and heady, and drew me right into the stories of these strangers who come together to take a cooking class.

The class is facilitated by Lillian, a chef and restaurant owner. Every Monday night, the class gathers in her restaurant’s kitchen, surrounded by the sights and smells of sweet and savory ingredients. The book is written almost as a collection of short stories, although I don’t think any chapter could stand on it’s own - each person’s story needs the frame of Lillian’s story in the prologue and epilogue, as well as the stories of the other characters. There is Antonia, the single kitchen decorator who misses her native Italy; Carl and Helen, the long-married couple whose love has endured much; Chloe, the clumsy waitress who is trying to come into her own; Ian, the young man who sees life as an experiment to be tried; Isabelle, a woman who is entering the winter of her life; Claire, the wife and mother of young children looking for something to call her own; and Tom, the widower still grieving the loss of his beloved.

Lillian has an uncanny knack for knowing just what her students need. As each Monday’s class brings an essential ingredient to the group, relationships are forged, changed, and healed. This is a short book - around 240 pages - and I could have gobbled it up in one sitting, but instead I forced myself to savor it over a few days. I will be watching eagerly for Bauermeister’s next foray into fiction.

5 out of 5 stars

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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Jessy (new)

Jessy how do you get ARC books?


message 2: by Vicki (new)

Vicki Heidorn I am new. What does ARC mean?


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