The School of Essential Ingredients is the story of eight individuals who come together for one Monday a month to participate in a cooking class. This class is hosted by Lillian who has quite the knack for making food bring the best out in a person. Each chapter focuses on a particular student and deals with topics/issues that can be considered deep and thought provoking.
I absolutely fell in love with Ms. Bauermeister’s writing. Her descriptions of food were so rich that I could actually envision and practically smell what was being cooked. Too bad there weren’t any actual recipes - some of the meals were just mouth watering. Each of the characters were interesting in their own way. Some of their stories were sad (yes, I admit it, I did shed a tear or two) and others were quite uplifting. And although the stories are short, they contain the "essential elements" of each character, and I found myself unexpectedly moved by their stories. For each character, food has had an impact on their lives and you enjoy getting to know these people and reinforcing the idea that food is much more than sustenance. This book is a celebration of the senses with the added beauty of personal growth of its characters.
I am definitely adding this to my list of favorite books in 2009. It was a quick, simple read that teaches you how to cook without a cookbook. My only complaint would be that it was too short. The story is beautiful and the writing is just lovely - this is one of those books that you just have to own.