THE SCHOOL OF ESSENTIAL INGREDIENTS by Erica Bauermeister
It's true, when I picked up this book to read it I didn't realize it was for the second time. I'd been looking at Erica Bauermeister's new book in the bookstore, THE LOST ART OF MIXING, and decided I better read the first book beforehand as I'd always wanted to read it. Isn't that funny? I had the strange recollection that I hadn't been able to get around to reading it despite my sincere desire to do so. As it turned out, I had. I realized as soon as I was a few pages in but just couldn't remember how it ended and was enjoying it so much I couldn't put it down. It turned out to be a fabulous reread and I recalled the earlier joy I'd had reading those pages, learning the life lessons of its characters, the awakenings they'd had at the school of essential ingredients, a cooking class run by one of it's characters, Lillian, at her restaurant on the first Monday of every month. It's a lovely premise and the perfect Sunday afternoon read.
I think my favourite part of the book is its characters. Each one is different, experiencing their own unique set of problems, all brought together by a simple cooking class. And in it, they each have this incredible awakening through the food and the act of cooking, coming together to form a comradery that reaches past the cooking class. It also makes you want to cook, makes your mouth water and your stomach rumble. Suddenly you'll be writing up ridiculously long grocery lists formed from ambitious pinterest recipes you suddenly have the bravery to try. The writing is beautiful, each character's story flowing flawlessly into the next, tying the plot together seamlessly. You learn the mystery of each character and watch as the magic of good food and good friends sets them back on the right path. It's a delicious experience. (Excuse the pun)
If you're looking for a well written, engaging book that'll make you toss out the chips and pull out the pots and pans, this is it. And I can assure you, it's a fantastic read, the first time and the second.