The Lost Art of Mixing is Pacific Northwest author Erica Bauermeister’s sort-of-sequel to The School of Essential Ingredients. We return to the cozy Seattle neighborhood restaurant run by Lillian, and meet some new characters (my favorites, the sham-author/actual accountant Al and his wife, Louise) while we delve deeper into the lives of others (the aging Isabelle, quirky-but-steady Chloe). The chapters are almost short stories that nonetheless weave together into a novel that celebrates connections — some serendipitous, some that are forged quite deliberately, and some that are broken beyond repair.
Throughout, Bauermeister’s prose is a sensuous delight to read, as she draws word pictures of places, personalities and, most memorably, meals. Because this book also pivots around Lillian’s restaurant, there are descriptions of cooks, markets, and even mises en places that make your mouth water (or tempt you to get out pots and pans to replicate a dish) even as you are attempting to speed read to the next complication in these interwoven lives and loves.
But don’t speed through this delightful book; stop and savor the writing like you do a good meal. Bauermeister’s point here is to make us appreciate the nuances that affect all five senses and make our lives worth living. It’s a slow-food sort of book, meant to be appreciated, lingered over, and even shared with friends.