Thursday, February 05, 2009

The School of Essential Ingredients
by Erica Bauermeister

Published in 2009. 240 pages.

I received an advanced copy of this book, which was available for purchase beginning January 22, from Matthew Boyd at the Penguin Group. Thanks, Matt!

First line: Lillian loved best the moment before she turned on the lights.

Last line: Then she turned off the lights, and left the kitchen.

Brief summary of the plot: Eight people of varying backgrounds gather on Monday nights for a cooking class. Lillian, the chef and restaurant owner who teaches the class, is able to give her students more than just recipes and kitchen skills.

What this book reminded me of: Maeve Binchy's Evening Class was the first comparison that came to mind. Although that novel is a lot longer with a more complicated plot, it's similar in setting - an Italian class - and format - each section focusing on a different character. The School of Essential Ingredients also reminded me of Chocolat. Lillian, like Vianne, has the ability to choose foods that will satisfy people physically and also meet their emotional needs. Finally, in reading Essential Ingredients, I remembered The Miracles of Santo Fico, a book I read some time ago that stimulated my senses, especially those of taste, sight, and sound, in a way that rarely comes from words written on paper. This book was the same way.

What I'd like to see: I would love to read more about Lillian's cooking (and life) lessons. Although this is Erica Bauermeister's first novel, I hope it won't be her last.

For more information: Check out the author's website and the Penguin Readers Guide.

To share in the joy of a good book: I would love to pass my copy of The School of Essential Ingredients to another interested reader. Leave a comment if you'd be interested, and I will randomly pick one lucky reader from those who comment by Friday, February 13.



  1. I really loved Evening Class so will keep an eye out for this book. Thanks for the recommendation.

    When I grow up I'd like to be Maeve Binchy!

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    Laura Essendine
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  2. After I read your review of Evening Class I picked it up at my favorite used book store and hope to get to it this year. I'd love to read this one. Pick me, pick me!

  3. I think that book sounds wonderful!!! Thanks for your review!

  4. I would love a copy of this book. It sounds great. Thanks!

    lil_wifey21 at yahoo dot com

  5. This sounds really good--I would love a chance to win.

  6. I have heard amazing things about this book! I definitely want to read this one.

  7. Oh pick me! This one has been on my list. It sounds terrific. Great review.

  8. Sounds good. Love to read it. Please enter me.


  9. I definitely want to read this book... please count me in for the giveaway!
    my website:

  10. I definitely want to read this book!
    Thanks for the giveaway!
    Amy B.