Friday, March 09, 2007

Fire, I'll teach you to burn

So Heat is an excellent read. This is hardly a controversial stand, as metacritic indicates it was the second highest scoring non-fiction book of 2006 (slightly edged out by the Looming Tower.) Anyway, the story is pretty well known. He meets Mario Batali and asks him to teach him how to cook. So he gets a job at Babbo, which is a bit like a weekend league baseball player getting a spot on the Yankees. The book then becomes the story of the author, Bill Buford, learning to cook at one of New York's great restaurants with side trips to Italy to learn how to make pasta and to butcher livestock. He also provides the stories of the people with whom he interacts and they are quite something. Batali's story is an interesting one, but even the line cook's tales are diverting.

So what set's it apart? For me it was the general humility the author brought to the story as well as his generous treatment of all of those around him. It could have devolved into a horn tooting exercise, but instead it was an penetrating exploration of the life of the restaurant worker. Buford, by the way, is a writer for the New Yorker. Earlier I mentioned a few reasons not to read a book, but author-regularly-writes-for-The-New-Yorker is a great reason to try a book.

1 comment:

bonjourtristesse said...

hey Tripp, great review, i will be checkin this book out for sure. Also really enjoyed the L.E.O and ELO post a little further down!! thanks!