Summer Reading


Blood, Bones and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef, by Gabrielle Hamilton.

Published by Random House, 2011. $30.00

Three words: Believe the hype. This woman can cook, and she definitely can write. Not just about food, either – this is a sort of chef’s coming of age story. Reading it, you feel as though you have acquired a new hip, worldly friend who tells you great stories about all her amazing experiences. You can’t get enough of it. From her childhood adventures to early college days, to working in a camp kitchen and catering kitchens, back to school, to opening her own restaurant and back and forth from Italy, you follow along behind, chewing on the pithy details, lapping up the descriptions. When’s her next book coming out?

An Extravagant Hunger: The Passionate Years of M.F. K. Fisher by Anne Zimerman

Published by Counterpoint, 2011. $30.50

Considered by many as America’s first food writer, M.F.K. Fisher’s stories were mostly autobiographical, so I have to confess to being mildly skeptical about a new biography. Was it really necessary? Couldn’t we learn enough about the woman from her own writing? But I began reading, and quickly became happily convinced.  What began as a Master’s thesis for Anne Zimmerman blossomed into a full-length biography. Thoroughly researched through hours spent at the Schlesinger Library, where Fisher’s journals and letters are archived, Zimmerman fills in the holes and creates a useful timeline – a backdrop against which one can better understand her subject’s own writings. Occasionally her interpretations may come across as somewhat forced, but overall she offers the reader a very enjoyable meander through M.F.K. Fisher’s adult life, offering valuable insight into the real woman behind the famous persona.

Beaten, Seared and Sauced: On Becoming a Chef at the Culinary Institute of America, by Jonathan Dixon

Published by Clarkson Potter, 2011. $27.00

A word of advice: don’t pick this one up immediately after finishing Blood, Bones and Butter. Though the two have several similarities (catchy three word titles, experience in both the kitchen and creative writing…) the difference in pace is jarring. In about as many pages as Hamilton takes to recount the story of the first half of her life, Dixon walks the reader slowly through the rigour that is the Culinary Institute of America, describing each corner of the institute and every aspect of the learning (and surviving) that goes on there in detail. If you have ever been to cooking school, or are thinking about going, this is the book for you. From the author’s first day to his graduation, this is an attentive narrative of how one acquires a culinary degree while hanging on to their sanity and sense of humour.



Written By:

Rebecca Baugniet is a freelance food writer and editor living on Canada’s West Coast with her husband and their four children. The author of three published cookbooks, Rebecca has also written for EAT Magazine and for Montréal ...

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