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“In normal life, "simplicity" is synonymous with "easy to do," but when a chef uses the word, it means "takes a lifetime to learn.”
Bill Buford, Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany
“Food made by hand is an act of defiance and runs contrary to everything in our modernity. Find it; eat it; it will go. It has been around for millennia. Now it is evanescent, like a season.”
Bill Buford, Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany
“The crowd is not us. It never is.”
Bill Buford, Among the Thugs
“You can't do traditional work at a modern pace. Traditional work has traditional rhythms. You need calm. You can be busy, but you must remain calm.”
Bill Buford, Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany
“The most important knowledge is understanding what you can't do.”
Bill Buford, Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany
“Food made by hand is an act of defiance and runs contrary to everything in our modernity.”
Bill Buford, Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany
“For my part, I’d come for the textbook and was glad to have it. Betta’s tortellini are now in my head and my hands. I follow her formula for the dough—an egg for every etto of flour, sneaking in an extra yolk if the mix doesn’t look wet enough. I’ve learned to roll out a sheet until I see the grain of the wood underneath. I let it dry if I’m making tagliatelle; I keep it damp if I’m making tortellini. I make a small batch, roll out a sheet, then another, the rhythm of pasta, each movement like the last one. My mind empties. I think only of the task. Is the dough too sticky? Will it tear? Does the sheet, held between my fingers, feel right? But often I wonder what Betta would think, and, like that, I’m back in that valley with its broken-combed mountain tops and the wolves at night and the ever-present feeling that the world is so much bigger than you, and my mind becomes a jumble of associations, of aunts and a round table and laughter you can’t hear anymore, and I am overcome by a feeling of loss. It is, I concluded, a side effect of this kind of food, one that’s handed down from one generation to another, often in conditions of adversity, that you end up thinking of the dead, that the very stuff that sustains you tastes somehow of mortality.”
Bill Buford
“A dish was a failure because it hadn’t been cooked with love. A dish was a success because the love was so obvious. If you’re cooking with love, every plate is a unique event—you never allow yourself to forget that a person is waiting to eat it: your food, made with your hands, arranged with your fingers, tasted with your tongue.”
Bill Buford, Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany
“Then he exploded. "No!" he said. That familiar injunction. I'd heard it so many times. "No. I cannot take this steel. It would not be correct." He opened his knife drawer. "It goes here," he said, "until you return."

(That's how you leave: by never saying good-bye.)

And I learned that: to return. I came back the following year and the year after that. I hope to return every year (after all, I may never have the chance to learn so much), until I have no one to return to. (301)”
Bill Buford, Heat
“I didn't want to be a chef: just a cook. And my experiences in Italy had taught me why. For millennia, people have known how to make their food. They have understood animals and what to do with them, have cooked with the seasons and had a farmer's knowledge of the way the planet works. They have preserved the conditions of preparing food, handed down through generations, and have come to know them as expressions of their families. People don't have this kind of knowledge today, even though it seems as fundamental as the earth, and, it's true, those who have it tend to be professionals -- like chefs. But I didn't want this knowledge in order to be a professional; just to be more human. (313)”
Bill Buford, Heat
“It could be Paris. It could be Rio de Janeiro. It could be anywhere but home: someplace, anyplace, disorienting enough to make him notice what he wouldn’t otherwise see. (The medicinal benefits of disorientation can never be overestimated.)”
Bill Buford
“I remember thinking: if the day becomes more violent, who do you blame? The English, whose behaviour on the square could be said to have been so provocative that they deserved whatever they got? The Italians, whose welcome consisted in inflicting injuries upon their visitors? Or can you place some of the blame on these men with their television equipment and their cameras, whose misrepresentative images served only to reinforce what everyone had come to expect.”
Bill Buford
“It is, I concluded, a side effect of this kind of food, one that's handed down from one generation to another, often in conditions of adversity, that you end up thinking of the dead, that the very stuff that sustains you tastes somehow of mortality. (198)”
Bill Buford, Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany
“I stood in the doorway of one room, lost in a meditation of the house's recurring habits. People had made love here, sweated through pregnancy, gave birth, looked after children, became ill, died, the fire always burning in the kitchen. In this room, the next generation had done the same, the fire still burning. And the next generation, for thousand years.”
Bill Buford, Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany
“You don't learn knife skills at cooking school, because they give you only six onions and no matter how hard you focus on those six onions there are only six, and you're not going to learn as much as when you cut up a hundred.”
Bill Buford, Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany
“If you’re cooking with love, every plate is a unique event—you never allow yourself to forget that a person is waiting to eat it:”
Bill Buford, Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany
“All this intelligent and careful work revealed a man of great forethought. Yet you could see in Mr. Wicks's eyes--as he stood in the shade of the terminal awning, all that tweed and education waving to us, as one by one each bus pulled out for the noisy drive into the city--that he had failed.”
Bill Buford, Among the Thugs
“This was a mouth that had suffered many slings and arrows along with the occasional thrashing and several hundredweight of tobacco and Cadbury's milk chocolate. This was a mouth through which a great deal of life had passed at, it would appear, an uncompromising speed.”
Bill Buford, Among the Thugs
“It was one of the things you put up with: that every Saturday young males trashed your trains, broke the windows of your pubs, destroyed your cars, wreaked havoc on your town centres. I didn't buy it, but it seemed to be so.”
Bill Buford, Among the Thugs
“I felt weightless. I felt nothing would happen to me. I felt that anything might happen to me. I was looking straight ahead, running, trying to keep up, and things were occurring along the dark peripheries of my vision: there would be a bright light and then darkness again and the sound, constantly, of something else breaking, and of movement, of objects being thrown and of people falling.”
Bill Buford, Among the Thugs
“I was surprised by what I found; moreover, because I came away with a knowledge that I had not possessed before, I was also grateful, and surprised by that as well. I had not expected the violence to be so pleasurable....This is, if you like, the answer to the hundred-dollar question: why do young males riot every Saturday? They do it for the same reason that another generation drank too much, or smoked dope, or took hallucinogenic drugs, or behaved badly or rebelliously. Violence is their antisocial kick, their mind-altering experience, an adrenaline-induced euphoria that might be all the more powerful because it is generated by the body itself, with, I was convinced, many of the same addictive qualities that characterize synthetically-produced drugs”
Bill Buford, Among the Thugs
“The text, written in Latin, was inspired by a fifteenth-century chef known as Maestro Martino and was called De honesta voluptate et valitudine, “On honest pleasures and good health.”
Bill Buford, Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany
“What made them particularly unusual was the way Steve presented them. He was rational and fluent and had given much thought to the problems he was discussing, although he had not thought about the implications of the thing – that this was socially deviant conduct of the highest order, involving injuries and maiming and the destruction of property., I don’t think he understood the implications; I don’t think he would have acknowledged them as valid.”
Bill Buford
“He is merely the first to cross an important boundary of behavior, a tactic boundary that, recognized by everyone there, separates one kind of conduct from another. He is prepared to commit this ‘threshold’ act – an act which, created by the crowd, would have been impossible without the crowd, even though the crowd itself is not prepared to follow: yet.”
Bill Buford, Among the Thugs
“I was taught how to tie up the loin with a butcher's looping knot and was so excited by the discovery that I went home and practiced. I told Elisa about my achievement. “I tied up everything,” I said. “A leg of lamb, some utensils, a chair. My wife came home, and I tied up her too.” Elisa shook her head. “Get a life,” she said and returned to her task.”
Bill Buford, Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany


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