Sean'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
Jun 14, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: food, non-fiction, biography
Read in June, 2009

Overall an engaging and interesting read about one man's journey from amateur home cooking through the world of a three-star restaurant kitchen. It's also a musing of sorts on food in general as he weaves in his own take on the slow food movement and brings up culinary history a bit (e.g., the history of the egg in pasta). Lastly it's a travelogue/memoir. In spite of it taking on a lot of different styles, I found it to be well paced, contain very interesting characters, and possess a storyline that kept me wanting to read (and eat) more.

I had two gripes. The first was his frequent use of the phrase "in the event" instead of "in the end" or "after all was said and done." It's stylistic, but I found it pretentious to the point of making my teeth grind. The worse flaw however was the journalist's typical sin...selling out your sources for a good story. I don't want to give anything away, but his treatment of two of the major characters in the book, Batali and Dario included a few too many cheap shots for my liking. I think he was trying to give an "objective" view of these guys who play dominant roles in the book, but they sometimes came off as petty slights in a wink-wink way with the reader (e.g., the repeated "Aha! This sounds French to me!" tack in regards to Mario, who apparently hates the French style of cooking).

That said, those were small issues and didn't detract much. It's a great read and I went to bed hungry every night with the many vivid accounts of what must have been delicious Italian food. It definitely made me want to travel to Italy for an extended period of time and eat as much as possible.

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