Teaser Tuesday is courtesy of Miz B’s Should Be Reading Blog. Each Tuesday I will post a snippet from a book I’m reading, or just finished reading. The name and author of the book as well a brief synopsis of the book is included.
The School of Essential Ingredients
by Erica Bauermeister
The School of Essential Ingredients follows the lives of eight students who gather in Lillian’s Restaurant every Monday night for cooking class. It soon becomes clear, however, that each one seeks a recipe for something beyond the kitchen. Students include Claire, a young mother struggling with the demands of her family; Antonia, an Italian kitchen designer learning to adapt to life in America; and Tom, a widower mourning the loss of his wife to breast cancer. Chef Lillian, a woman whose connection with food is both soulful and exacting, helps them to create dishes whose flavor and techniques expand beyond the restaurant and into the secret corners of her students’ lives. One by one the students are transformed by the aromas, flavors, and textures of Lillian’s food, including a white-on-white cake that prompts wistful reflections on the sweet fragility of love and a peppery heirloom tomato sauce that seems to spark one romance but end another. Brought together by the power of food and companionship, the lives of the characters mingle and intertwine, united by the revealing nature of what can be created in the kitchen.
But it was the cooking that occurred in her friends’ houses that fascinated Lillian- the aroma that started calling to her just when she had to go home in the evening. Some smells were sharp, an olfactory clatter of heels across a hardwood floor. Others felt like the warmth in the air at the far end of summer. Lillian watched as the scent of mellting cheese brought children languidly from their rooms, saw how garlic made them talkative, jokes expanding into stories of their days. Lillian thought it odd that not all mothers seemed to see it – Sarah’s mother for instance, always cooked curry when she was fighting with her teenage daugher, its smell rocketing through the house like a challenge. But Lillian soon realized that many people did not comprehend the language of smells that to Lillian was obvious as a billboard.
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