I picked up this book at Barnes & Noble the day before Dewey's read-a-thon. It was on the staff recommendations bookshelf, recommend by Tom. I also noticed Tom recommended The Elegance of the Hedgehog. Under his recommendation he wrote this was one of his favorite books that was recently published. The Elegance of the Hedgehog also happened to be one of my favorite reads of 2010, so I quickly decided I could trust Tom's taste in books and bought The School of Essential Ingredients. It turns out this book wasn't anything more than a beach read; light, easy and less than fulfilling.
The book details the inner-workings of a cooking class, briefly delving into the lives and history of each student, with a focus on the cooking instructor. While certain phrases and ideas shined through every now and then, overall I found the story to be blunt and lacking depth. The characters felt contrived and everything wrapped up a little too neatly for my taste.
A few participants had no desire for lessons at all, arriving with gift certificates in hand as if on a forced march to certain failure: they knew their cakes would always be flat , their cream sauces filled with small, disconcerting pockets of flour, like bills in your mailbox when you had hoped for a love letter.This book may as well have been a bill in my mailbox, because I enjoyed it just the same. Lesson learned; Tom is no longer to be trusted.
Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group, 2009