Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Feb. Foodie Fiction Review: The School of Essential Ingredients

Goodreads Summary:
Reminiscent of Chocolat and Like Water for Chocolate, a gorgeously written novel about life, love, and the magic of food.

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.

My thoughts:
One of the coziest, most wonderfully warm books I've ever read.  Of all the foodie fiction novels I've read thus far, this is my favorite.  I remember reading it in one sitting and being so surprised that this novel drew me in as much as it did.  You easily care for all of the characters in the book and getting to see how the cooking class is a catalyst for change in their lives is delightful!

Don't be surprised if this book has you rushing to your stove to whip up some food yourself!  In fact, I would highly recommend having something savory and delicious simmering while you read this novel, it will only enhance your reading experience.  This is the ultimate feel-good foodie book, highly recommended!

4/5 stars


  1. I really enjoyed this one too, the characters in it were so much fun to read about.

  2. I like this book. So much so that I accidentally bought it twice!

    Read it with book club and it was a good discussion, but then anything with food is!