Erica Bauermeister’s lyrical novel about the adventures of a cooking class in a snug little Seattle bistro — The School of Essential Ingredients — is out in paperback. If your valentine is into slow food, soft rain and happy endings, this fantasia on the healing power of food and connection makes a nice little gift for February 14.
The novel weaves together the stories of students at a great little neighborhood bistro-in-a-bungalow run by Lillian, a passionate cook who believes that appreciating good food brings on other good things. We learn the past, present and/or future of a collection of people who take cooking lessons (for various reasons) in Lillian’s cozy little restaurant kitchen. It makes you long to walk down the street to your own little local eatery (hmm… Seattle has it over Pasadena there) and look into all the pots (and plots). Erica Bauermeister’s mouthwatering prose is evocative — and sometimes instructive — and the plot is merely a device to get you from one great meal to another. You could almost read this as a series of short stories, snuggled in front of the fire with a good glass of wine on a few lazy winter afternoons. Save it to savor like a series of well-chosen appetizers (as if!).