A hilariously self-deprecating, highly obsessive account of the author's adventures, in the world of French haute cuisine, for anyone whose ever found joy in cooking and eating food with their family--from the author of the best-selling, widely acclaimed Heat.
A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice
Bill Buford turns his inimitable attention from Italian cuisine to the food of France. Baffled by the language, but convinced that he can master the art of French cooking--or at least get to the bottom of why it is so revered-- he begins what becomes a five-year odyssey by shadowing the esteemed French chef Michel Richard, in Washington, D.C. But when Buford (quickly) realizes that a stage in France is necessary, he goes--this time with his wife and three-year-old twin sons in tow--to Lyon, the gastronomic capital of France. Studying at L'Institut Bocuse, cooking at the storied, Michelin-starred La Mère Brazier, enduring the endless hours and exacting rigeur of the kitchen, Buford becomes a man obsessed--with proving himself on the line, proving that he is worthy of the gastronomic secrets he's learning, proving that French cooking actually derives from (mon dieu!) the Italian. With his signature humor, sense of adventure, and masterly ability to immerse himself--and us--in his surroundings, Bill Buford has written what is sure to be the food-lover's book of the year.
Buford (Heat) delivers a vivid and often laugh-out-loud account of the tribulations, humblings, and triumphs he and his family endured in the five years they lived in France. In the mid-aughts, Buford determines to move to France to learn about French cooking, and after much effort he, his wife, and their twin toddler boys arrive in Lyon, a city notable for "its gritty darkness, the sewage smells," where it's initially impossible for Buford to find a kitchen to work in. It isn't until he does a stint at a cooking school that he finagles a spot in a Michelin-starred restaurant, where the work is relentless and the culture unreformed (an Indonesian cook, for instance, is given the name Jackie Chan). Meanwhile, Buford's twin boys become fully French, and Buford puts on his culinary deerstalker cap to investigate the influence of Italian cooking on French cuisine, and vice versa. Buford's a delightful narrator, and his stories of attending a pig slaughter, befriending the owner of a local bakery, and becoming gradually accepted by the locals are by turns funny, intimate, insightful, and occasionally heartbreaking. It's a remarkable book, and even readers who don't know a sabayon from a Sabatier will find it endlessly rewarding.