I found Erica Bauermeister's new novel, The School of Essential Ingredients will browsing in Borders a few weeks ago. Although I was reading several other things at the time, I went through this great book in about four days.
One of the endorsements on the cover predicts that lovers of the Food Network will adore this book. And that's probably true. The novel is rich with delectable descriptions of food, cooking, flavors and ingredients.
The novel follows the lives of a cooking teacher and her students across the duration of their cooking class. The class is held monthly at the teacher's restaurant. The lessons are a bit unorthodox, but the results are phenomenal. The writing is both vivid and compelling. The author is involved in the Slow Food Movement and the principles of that are definitely a strong presence in the novel.
My only complaint about the book was the format. Each chapter is told from the perspective of a different character. Each chapter gave background into the life of that particular character, often going far back into their personal histories. I was frustrated because I would become so engrossed in one character's story that I was unhappy when their chapter came to a close. The characters would reappear as characters in later chapters, but only from the periphery. When the book ended, I had many questions left unanswered.
However, the read itself was delightful. It definitely inspired me to cook more!
image from amazon.com