Friday, August 31, 2012

Romance Novel: The School of Essential Ingredients, Author: Erica Bauermeister

Loved it. Will read her latest. But...

Author, Erica Bauermeister, was new to me. Her book, The School of Essential Ingredients, is chock full of truth stated in beautiful new ways.

Like this:
“Minutes, hours. If you stop to think about it, every meal you eat, you eat time—the weeks it takes to ripen a tomato, the years to grow a fig tree. And every meal you cook is time out of your day—but you all know that.” Erica Bauermeister, The School of Essential Ingredients

The book has thought-provoking passages that state basic, obvious things that have always been there but, I, at least, have never quite grasped them.

Like this:
“If you think about it,” she went on, “every time we prepare food we interrupt a life cycle. We pull up a carrot or kill a crab—or maybe just stop the mold that’s growing on a wedge of cheese. We make meals with those ingredients and in doing so we give life to something else. It’s a basic equation, and if we pretend it doesn’t exist, we’re likely to miss the other important lesson, which is to give respect to both sides of the equation.” Erica Bauermeister, The School of Essential Ingredients

Lately for some reason, I’ve given a lot of space in my brain to the fact that cows and elephants and giraffes are not really vegetarians. When you watch them eat, they don’t scrape off the ants. A certain percentage of their diet has to be insects. (I’m not sure where I heard or read that but it’s not originally my thought.)
Words strung together that resonate with something at my core—like these words which speak of why I love the desert:
“Dusty green, the smell of life made out of sun and little water, the driest of perfumes. Sage.” Erica Bauermeister, The School of Essential Ingredients

Sentences that remind me of the heightened awareness that accompanies anticipation—like these two that brought to mind picking up and moving on for no reason other than I was ready:

---“She had gotten in the lumbering, wood-paneled station wagon and driven south, the fan whirring until she had turned off the highway and driven through cacti and hawks, opening the windows while the world flooded in, silver-green with the smell of sage.” Erica Bauermeister, The School of Essential Ingredients

---“Ian tried to imagine being so sure of what to do that he would leave everything, go somewhere else, just to be uncertain.” Erica Bauermeister, The School of Essential Ingredients

A phrase that became allegorical for me because it evoked hours spent in quiet rooms focused only on the muscles my hands were kneading:
“I used to know a sculptor,” Isabelle said, nodding. “He always said that if you looked hard enough, you could see where each person carried his soul in his body.” Erica Bauermeister, The School of Essential Ingredients

A statement that was simple and yet intensely profound, again, for ME, because it gave me permission to ignore the criticisms thrown at me by people in my life for whom the only important consideration when shopping is the price of something:
“As a SENSUALIST, your ingredients are your first priority,…” Erica Bauermeister, The School of Essential Ingredients

My takeaway from this book is a deepened sense of the joy of the now moments of my life. A good example; I don't have an easy opportunity to taste the Cherry Kirsch spoken of in the book. (Dry county, remember?) Instead I revel in my recent discovery of Viking Double Dark Roast coffee from Fidalgo Bay.

Normally this is where I would endorse the book and encourage you to read it. And I do. Those of you who read this blog regularly will recognize, however, that what I'm about to do, is not normal for me. 

I'm going to talk about an aspect of the book that I consider to be a negative. Understand me, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I am eager to read Bauermeister's new book just out, Joy For Beginners.

I must confess, however, to disappointment because I feel - I. Did. Not. Get. Enough. of the stories of Claire and James or Ian and Antonia or Lillian and maybe Tom or any of the characters.

Even with that drawback, I loved The School For Essential Ingredients and have added Erica Bauermeister to my list of authors whose books I will automatically read in the future; clear evidence of her skill as a writer.

Do you have a list of authors you automatically read because you know you will love whatever they write? Do any of them have something they consistently do that is a drawback for you?


  1. I will always read Connie Willis, and still love her. But she does this thing where her characters are always missing each other, or missing the person they're trying to contact, etc. I think she does it for thematic/philosophical reasons, but it's time someone told that woman to take it down a few notches! It's exhausting to read.

    1. That does sound frustrating. I've never read her. Will check her out.

  2. I have many authors I read consistently, but all of them have put out sub-par things at one time or another. I mean, sup-par according to me, who may or may not be the best judge of such things. :) But I think all writers have their draw backs. It's part of what makes them human. :)

    1. So true. And sometimes no one satisfies me and I know that what I really want to read is also what I really want to write.

  3. For me it is Jordan, King, Goodkind and our own Kate George. The draw is the characters I think.

    With Jordan and Goodkind the series can go on for a dozen or more books. When a book comes out I want to know what they've been up to.

    Feist used to be on the list for me-not sure what happened there, I wandered away one day and didn't wander back.

    I love Stephen King because his thoughts are so odd and his characters simply marvelous. He has never disappointed me.

    I like reading Kate George because I know that it is going to be a fun read.

    1. One of the librarians where I go is a King fan. I've enjoyed a few of his things but mostly he just makes me uncomfortable.
      I'm with you on the Kate George love, though.