Bookmarks Magazine'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 05, 09


When great reportage meets a great subject it's a recipe for success, and Bill Buford, a staff writer at the New Yorker, rises to the occasion. As in his previous book, Among the Thugs, on soccer hooligans, he revels in his cast of alpha males, especially "Falstaff with a spatula" (Washington Post) Mario Batali. Heat doesn't fit neatly into a category: it's a hearty helping of immersive journalism with a dash of Batali biography and a pinch of gastronomic history tossed in for good measure. This suits most critics fine, since they're content to tail along with a writer (and butcher) of Buford's skill; however, a substantial minority of critics felt the book faltered whenever Buford strayed too far from Batali's orbit. They felt they didn't need to see another writer slowly realizing that the process of producing food has become too industrialized. No doubt the crew at Babbo would be glad to devise an appropriately sordid meal just for them.

This is an excerpt from a review published in Bookmarks magazine.

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