The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry




The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry ***** by Kathleen Flinn




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”.





 This was an excellent book, especially for Food for Thought. I devoured it :-) It was a quick read~I was able to finish on recent flight &  while waiting at the airport. It made me laugh out loud, cringe at times, and feel a lot of empathy and admiration for Kathleen, who at the age of 36, decides to make lemonade out of the lemons she’s handed, when her job is eliminated. Following her dream to go to Le Cordon Bleu, she moves to Paris which requires her entire severance package and savings. Against her mother’s advice to get another job immediately, and without the benefit of speaking French, Kathleen embarks on her journey. If you’ve ever made a career change, taken a leap of faith, or just wish you could pick up and move on~ you’ll enjoy this book:


“Life is so much easier when you can wrap yourself within the veil of a big company’s identity. People assume that so much of what you do is who you are, and it’s easy to believe that yourself. There’s a stamp of worth that you get automatically by association.”









 Chef Savard explains how to cut an onion. . .





“So, the sharper your knife, the less you cry.”





“I sink into the water and consider Chef Bertrand’s comment that pastry is like people. You can’t hurry love, and you can’t rush puff pastry, either. You can knead too much, and you can be too needy. Always, warmth is what brings pastry to rise. Chemistry creates something amazing; coupled with care and heat, it works some kind of magic to create this satisfying, welcoming, and nourishing thing that is the base of life.”







Quiche aux Oignons D’or et aux Tomates Rôties
Golden Onion and Roasted Tomato Quiche, recipe here





















Kathleen reminisces about meeting Julia Child at a writer’s conference:


“Just as I sat down, I heard a familiar warble ask, ‘Is this seat taken?’ Julia squeezed her giant frame into the seat next to me. It was as if God Almighty had saddled up on my left. ‘The salmon at breakfast was so good, I had to finish it.’ she whispered in a conspiratorial tone. She took copious notes of the morning’s sessions. As we broke for lunch, she closed her notebook with a satisfied smile.’I always love to come to this workshop. You learn so much.’ she said. This amazed me. After all, she was Julia freakin’ Child. I assumed she knew everything there was to know about food and cooking. I politely told her so. She laughed. ‘Oh, no, you can never know everything about anything, especially something you love.’ she said, patting me on the knee. ‘Besides, I started late.’








There are lots of ups and downs for Kathleen. . . she does has company to commiserate with:  “This isn’t cooking, it’s like learning a complicated sport!” — Kim, a student in Basic Cuisine





“Undeterred, I sign us up online for a promising monthly event. ‘Practice French language skills and meet new friends in a non-threatening environment,’ the description reads. Photos on the site had nothing but smiling, happy people holding up glass of wine or waving at the camera. It turns out to be a horrible blind date with ten people.”








Confit Provençal aux Tomates
Provençal tomato spread, recipe here










“It’s easy to appreciate why sauces developed into one of the distinguishing elements of French cuisine:  a great sauce can hide a host of deficiencies. A bad sauce hides nothing, especially not itself.”




 “Today’s sauce calls for roughly three tablespoons of butter and about a cup of cream. At 55 calories per tablespoon of cream and 90 for the same amount of butter, I calculate that these ingredients alone contain more than 1,500 calories. Perhaps this explains why I’ve gained seven pounds in five weeks.”









“I’ve gone through more than three hundred recipes, ninety lessons, my entire savings, and an incalculable number of calories from fat, cream, and butter. I look at my hands, scarred from a motley assortment of cuts and burns.”






“Everyone learns something different at Le Cordon Bleu, and maybe this is my lesson.” she says. “Sometimes I can’t be the best. Like today. My sauce was fine. It wasn’t the greatest sauce the judges saw, but it was what I could do today. I have to be happy with that.”






“As in cooking, living requires that you taste, taste, taste as you go along–you can’t wait until the dish of life is done. In my career, I always looked ahead to the place I wanted to go, the next rung on the ladder. It reminds me of ‘The Station’ by Robert Hastings, a parable read at our wedding. The message is that while on a journey, we are sure the answer lies at the destination. But in reality, there is no station, no ‘place to arrive at once and for all. The joy of life is the trip, the station is a dream that constantly out distances us.’ How many tears did I cry because I didn’t know what I wanted? ‘The sharper your knife,’ as Chef Savard had said, ‘the less you cry.’ For me it also means to cut those things that get in the way of your passion and of living your life the way it’s meant to be lived. Of course, I also learned to make a mean reduction sauce and to bone an entire chicken without removing the skin, which is nice too.”






For more information on the author, visit her website & blog where you can find a recipe for limoncello out of lemons, rather than lemonade :-)



Be sure to visit Food for Thought and find out what everyone is reading & eating!

  10 comments for “The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry

  1. May 8, 2010 at 10:36 am

    I enjoyed your photos and this book is not added to my summer reading list…. the ever growing summer reading list and with this one, my ever growing waist line!

  2. May 8, 2010 at 11:19 am

    Oh my goodness…what a WONDERFUL review! “I devoured”, too!!
    The recipes look magnificent & your photography skills are outstanding. What a great contribution to FFT! I’m so glad you’re joining in with the rest of us. :-) It really adds to the fun…and my *must read* list, too. LOL

  3. May 8, 2010 at 1:03 pm

    i love spending my saturdays with you~ another lush drop dead gorgeous post… good thing i don’t get jealous around talented people, i am to busy trying to copy!

    is that true about the onions?

    your tart colors are glorious to my eyes, i have been in turquoise all morn doing the motion of the ocean! oh my mouth is watering… you really are an artist…

    i am laughing at your quotes, blind date!

    your dishes are so perfect with the book… again, YOU ARE AN ARTIST!

    i read every word you shared, great fun! what i love is she made a career out of writing for herself too! this goes on my list… i hope this summer i can read loads, i have so many books i want to read, no time to indulge right now. thank you so much for being my weekend indulgence~

    ps, read sarah’s key, step out of your comfort zone, give it a try… i am sure you will love it.

  4. May 8, 2010 at 7:01 pm

    You are an artist, no question! Your tart is giving me hungry pains. :-)
    Glad to know of this book. My husband attended the French Culinary Institute at age 55. The program required an amazing amount of work. Several of the other students in his class were even older, one a retired federal judge and the other a lady in he late 60s. Several 40 somethings starting a second career after burn out in the first. So this book might really appeal to my husband. He loves to cook and attended FCI just for the pleasure of the experience.

    • May 9, 2010 at 6:55 am

      How wonderful! I love that idea of taking classes for the pleasure of the experience rather than for a career. I bet dinners are a treat in your house :-)

  5. Carolyn
    May 8, 2010 at 9:16 pm

    What a great review! Love the concept of taking on a whole new venture, learning something totally new after spending many years doing the same thing year after year. It would be wonderful if anyone who was layed off or just wanted to try something new, like the above comments about Sarah’s 55 year old husband. Just feeling that same sense of adventure it mught take to try something different in middle age would be such a confidence builder.
    Your photos are so beautiful. I do believe that you could make crunchy dog food and moist cat food look very palatable. Give it a try. Just arrange it on a bed of Boston Lettuce. Ahh, go ahead, I dare you.

  6. May 10, 2010 at 8:05 pm

    This looks very yummy. I love all the excerpts…tell me is the language g, pg, or R??

    • May 10, 2010 at 8:29 pm

      She only uses Merde when appropriate, no other language :-)

  7. May 11, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    Great review and great photos. I just put this on my list of summer reading when you stated it made you laugh.

  8. May 12, 2010 at 8:06 am

    I read this book and loved it! Also love your quiche and provencal tomato spread! Photos are lovely, too.

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