The School of Essential Ingredients

ImageNormally, my mother and I like different reading material. But we both enjoy food and cooking, so when her book group read The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister, she recommended it to me. I can’t imagine anyone not liking this book. Even if you’re not a foodie, food appeals to you in some manner, and the way Bauermeister describes both food and cooking is wonderful. Even without that, her writing has a flow which is very inviting and easy to read, and once I started I couldn’t put it down.

To very very very briefly summarize the book, Lillian is a gifted cook who gives cooking classes in her restaurant’s kitchen once a month. She has a gift of healing people with food, and the lives of her students are changed.

While Lillian is certainly a nice character with eccentricity, it is the lives of her students which really shine in the book, and which kept me interested. Each one of them is given a section of the book, and their stories are varied and compelling. This is definitely a warm, fuzzy, feel good kind of book, while still dealing with difficult issues in the various characters lives.

There is also a sequel, entitled The Lost Art of Mixing, which I’m hoping mom will let me borrow when she’s done with it.

As for my thoughts, it would be totally cool to be able to have Lillian’s gift for cooking people out of their funks. But essentially, we’re all comforted by familiar food. A bad meal can ruin one’s day, and a good one will leave us reminiscing for weeks, months, years. Maybe it subconsciously inspired me to do all that cooking this weekend. Nothing fancy, just meals and some squash bread (think zucchini bread). But it filled our apartment with good smells and our stomachs with good food, and the experience of both preparing and partaking a pleasant meal, and what it does for our souls, which is what this book was all about.


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