Jenny (Reading Envy)'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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Apr 24, 2007

it was amazing
bookshelves: read06, foodie, favorites

I have to admit I picked this up because Anthony Bourdain was reading it on his show "No Reservations" (and he wrote Kitchen Confidential). This is the story of an editor for the New Yorker who ends up in the kitchens of Mario Batali - it is an encounter of his experiences in the kitchen, plus a biography of Mario, plus a history of food - all at the same time. I really enjoyed this. It took me back to my restaurant days, expressing the outrageous kitchen culture that you would not believe if you hadn't experienced it too. Following are quotations that were meaningful to me (I'm not sure they make sense out of context).


"Holly was offered a job. It paid five hundred dollars a week, with five days' vacation starting in her second year. There was no mention of sick pay because it was understood you didn't get sick, which I'd already discovered in the chilly silence that had greeted me when I'd come down with the flu and phoned Elisa to say that I wasn't coming in that day...."

"In fact, without my fully realizing it, there was an education in the frenzy, because in hte frenzy there was always repetition. Over and over again, I'd pick up a smell, as a task was being completed, until finally I came to identify not only what the food was but where it was in its preparation... One day I was given a hundred and fifty lamb tongues. I had never held a lamb's tongue, which I found greasy and unnervingly humanlike. But after cooking, trimming, peeling, and slicing a hundred and fifty lam tognues, I was an expert."

"Give a chef an egg, and you'll know what kind of cook he is. It takes a lot to cook an egg." (This just made me laugh because in my restaurant kitchen, the CIA-trained grill cook could not poach an egg to save his life, and actually destroyed an entire dozen one day before the chef asked me to do it, and I only knew how because I'd read about it)

"In addition to the endless riffing about cooking-with-love, chefs also talk about the happiness of making food: not preparing or cooking food but making it." (passage goes on in detail about the satisfaction of the aesthetic pleasure as well as other people finding satisfaction in what you have made)

"The yelling, too, was not without its life lessons. When Frankie was abusing me, he was always doing it for a reason. He was trying to make me a better cook."

There are so many more I could quote but they are too long - one page describes this day in a Florentine kitchen where the author trips, splits his head open, and catches on fire, and it is so freaking hilarious. I highly recommend this book.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
December 1, 2006 – Finished Reading
April 24, 2007 – Shelved
May 26, 2010 – Shelved as: read06
May 26, 2010 – Shelved as: foodie
February 22, 2011 – Shelved as: favorites

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

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message 1: by White (new) - added it

White jenny l am sold .I would love this book as i am a kitchen brat ,though a old one,I still love the culture of kitchens.
what other job asks so much and can give so little But when you are good at your job you can be a star.


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