The School of Essential Ingredients ***** by Erica Bauermeister
I’m joining Jain with my edible book review at Food for Thought, where pages from your book magically mix with the kitchen and your camera~
My favorite quote from the book:
“It’s not always easy to slow our lives down. But just in case we need a little help, we have a natural opportunity, three times a day, to relearn the lesson.”
“The School” is a cooking class that meets one Monday a month in restaurant run by Lillian. Lillian, herself, discovered at a young age that with a few “essential ingredients” in cooking, you can reconnect people to themselves, others and their past.
The story revolves around eight students as they gather once a month for class…each lacking an ingredient in their lives. Lillian guides each student, and serves as a catalyst in their discovery.
So much beautiful food imagery as the class prepares fresh crab, wedding cake, a Thanksgiving menu, pasta with red sauce, tortillas, fondue… each participant taking away from the class Lillian’s food knowledge and wisdom:
“If you think about it, every time we prepare food we interrupt a life cycle. We pull up a carrot or kill a crab– or maybe just stop the mold that’s growing on a wedge of cheese. We make meals with those ingredients and in doing so we give life to something else. It’s a basic equation, and if we pretend it doesn’t exist, we’re likely to miss the other important lesson, which is to give respect to both sides of the equation.”
“The name for cocoa is theobroma, which means ‘food of the gods’. I know that chocolate is meant for us, however, because the melting point for good chocolate just happens to be the temperature within your very human mouth.”
A favorite passage from the book that is timely with Valentine’s Day around the corner:
“Our skin has been hibernating in layers of clothes for months; we are accustomed to gray. We can start to think that this is how it always will be. And then, there’s Valentine’s Day. A day to look in your lover’s eyes and see color. To eat something that plays with your taste buds and to remember romance. But here’s the thing. If you live in your senses, slowly, with attention, if you use your eyes and fingertips and your taste buds, then romance is something you’ll never need a greeting card to make you remember.”
“I like the idea of taking the first asparagus of the year, picked right that day, and putting it in a warm, creamy risotto. It celebrates both seasons and takes you from one to the next in just a few bites.”
With the promise of Spring on the horizon, I made Ina Garten’s Spring Green Risotto.
I HIGHLY recommend this book. It’s a quick read, yet in going back through for pictures and quotes, some passages took a new significance. Here’s hoping you’ll come away with your own Essential Ingredients…