Thursday, December 24, 2009

The School of Essential Ingredients-Erica Bauermeister

The School of Essential Ingredients
Erica Bauermeister
Berkley, Jan 2010, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425232095

Lillian became a cook as the only means of reaching her mother who walled herself off after her husband abandoned her. Over the years, she taught herself the culinary art and opened up a successful restaurant.

Highly regarded as a chef, Lillian wants others to share in her joy of food. She mentors eight students for a month on every Monday. However, besides the power of good food, Lillian hopes to provide the same wisdom she found with her mother. Nervous because she has no idea who her students will be unlike the experience she succeeded with her mom, Lillian looks forward to Monday nights at her School of essential ingredients in baking a wonderful life.

This is a super character study tale that in many ways reads like interrelated short stories as the chapters focus on different people starting with Chef Lillian and switching to students like married couple Helen and Carl (separate sections), Antonia, Tom, Chloe, Isabelle and Ian. Each has woes that Lillian hopes her teaching the essential ingredients of cooking will help each to understand what matters in life especially relationships. This is a strong contemporary as Lillian puts her soul in every meal she makes because cooking for others is one of the best ways to connect to their souls.

Harriet Klausner

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