I bought a copy of this book after Sandy raved about it and then included it in her top ten of the year. Good audio books are very hard to find, but Sandy listens to a lot of them and so if she raves about one then I know I’m in safe hands.
The School of Essential Ingredients is a weekly cookery class run by Lillian, a restaurant owner who taught herself to cook as a child in order to connect with her mother, a woman who had become depressed after her husband left her.
Each week the book focuses on a different one of the eight cookery students; we learn a bit about their lives and Lillian uses food to help them through their various problems.
Warning: This book will make you hungry!
The book is packed with amazing descriptions of food preparation – I could almost taste each dish as it was described and in many cases I wanted to rush out and make it. I think this is mainly down to the wonderful narration provided by Cassandra Campbell – she made the book come alive! I can’t imagine enjoying the print version of this book – I think I’d have found the recipes tedious and the lack of momentum would have led me to give up.
I’m not a fan of short stories and I’m afraid this book suffered from being more like a selection of short stories than a novel. The stories of each cookery student were very different and I had hoped everything would be brought together in the end, but I’m afraid they failed to link up and the book seemed to end quite abruptly.
I also found the book to be a bit overly sentimental and there were a few too many metaphors for my liking:
Note: Trying to get a quote from an audio book is very hard, so I copied this quote from this wonderful quotes and passages blog.
A slightly amusing problem was caused by the fact this is an American book. Many foods have different names and although I knew most of them, there was a point when I wondered why she was decorating a cake with okra. It took me a few minutes to realise that Lady’s Fingers are something very different in America!!
Despite these criticisms it did inspire me to cook and on the whole I enjoyed listening to it.
Recommended to those interested in cookery.
I couldn’t find a negative review for this book:
I absolutely adored this book, and I’m going to be recommending it to everyone. Booking Mama
…if you’ve never read a food-related novel, this is where to start. A Reader’s Respite
Don’t read this book when you are hungry; it will probably be unbearable. S. Krishna’s Books