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The Saucier's Apprentice : One Long Strange Trip Through the Great Cooking Schools of Europe
The education of a barbarian in the temples of haute cuisine.
In the blink of an eye, Bob Spitz turned fifty, finished an eight-year book project and a fourteen-year marriage that left him nearly destitute, had his heart stolen and broken on the rebound, and sought salvation the only way he knew how. He fled to Europe, where he hopscotched among the finest cooking schools in pursuit of his dream. The urge to cook like a virtuoso, to unravel the mysteries of the process, had become an obsession.
Spitz hit the fabled cooking-school circuit in a series of idyllic European villages, and The Saucier's Apprentice is a chronicle of his exploits. Combining an outrageous travelogue with gastronomic lore, hands-on cooking instruction, hot-tempered chefs, local personalities, and a batch of memorable recipes, Spitz's odyssey recounts the transformation of a professional writer--and lifelong kitchen amateur--into a world-class cook. 30 illustrations.
When Spitz (The Beatles) finds himself at a convergence of personal and professional crossroads, he finally decides to take a long anticipated trip to Europe to learn to cook, with an itinerary of placements across France and Italy that he hopes will bring a sense of soul into an earnest but uneducated attraction to braises and sauts. The trip begins with Spitz as the first and only trial client of the Robert Ash Cookery School in southern Burgundy, an experience that proves positive. With a souffl?, he saves the honor of the stern taskmistress at one school and he perfects his quenelles at another in Cannes. Although Spitz pins his culinary adventure to a personal story arc involving his on-again-off-again relationship with a woman in New York, this mixed grill of a book isn't quite as entertaining as it might have been. The author works hard at being earnest and honest about his personal shortcomings as well as his culinary misadventures, but one frequently gets the sense that he was more focused on cooking than life experience. With recipes and b&w photos. (May)
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W. W. Norton & Company
May 11, 2008
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