The new year is not so new anymore, and as we tear those daily
calendar pages off, many of the carefully made and sincerely meant New Year's
Resolutions begin to be discarded as well. The government, which keeps track
of such things, lists "lose weight" and "eat right" as among the
most popular resolutions of Americans. I suspect that Lillian, the wonderfully
intuitive cook and slightly mysterious central character of Erica Bauermeister's
nourishing first novel would advise those resolution-makers to instead seek
a better relationship with food, and to learn what cooking is really about:
healing as well as comfort.
Lillian and the eight students attending her current cooking class (held monthly
in the kitchen of her restaurant) each get a chapter, a structure that can be
difficult to build a novel around when there are so many...
Beyond the Book
Cooking by Feel
Although Lillian calls her cooking classes "The School of Essential Ingredients" and has been asked what those are, she doesn't keep a list of them, nor are any of her recipes written down. While she does acknowledge that baking requires a more carefully balanced set of ingredients (she also believes that couples should make their own wedding cakes
"as part of preparation for their lives together"), cooking allows considerably more freedom. Cooking is
"all about preference."
Most of us are used to a kind of cooking that begins with recipes: a list of measured ingredients and instructions on what to do with them and when to do it. There may be some variations included, but it all seems more to do with science than taste. It may look like...