The book that helped define a genre: Heat is a beloved culinary classic, an adventure in the kitchen and into Italian cuisine, by Bill Buford, author of Dirt.
Bill Buford was a highly acclaimed writer and editor at the New Yorker when he decided to leave for a most unlikely destination: the kitchen at Babbo, one of New York City’s most popular and revolutionary Italian restaurants.
Finally realizing a long-held desire to learn first-hand the experience of restaurant cooking, Buford soon finds himself drowning in improperly cubed carrots and scalding pasta water on his quest to learn the tricks of the trade. His love of Italian food then propels him further afield: to Italy, to discover the secrets of pasta-making and, finally, how to properly slaughter a pig. Throughout, Buford stunningly details the complex aspects of Italian cooking and its long history, creating an engrossing and visceral narrative stuffed with insight and humor. The result is a hilarious, self-deprecating, and fantasically entertaining journey into the heart of the Italian kitchen.
Buford's voice echoes the rhythms of his own writing style. Writing about his break from working as a New Yorker editor and learning firsthand about the world of food, Buford guns his reading into hyperspeed when he is jazzed about a particularly tangy anecdote, and plays with his vocal tone and pitch when mimicking others' voices. At its base, Buford's voice is tinged with a jovial lilt, as if he is amused by his life as a "kitchen slave" and by the outsize personalities of the people he meets along the way. Less authoritative than blissfully confused, Buford speaks the way he writes, as a well-informed but never entirely knowledgeable outsider to the world of food love. Listening to his imitation of star chef Mario Batali's kinetic squeal, Buford ably conveys his abiding love for the teachers and companions of his brief, eventful life as a cook. Simultaneous release with the Knopf hardcover. (Reviews, Apr. 3).
Not only an accurate description of restaurant life with a side rarely seen by guests, but also a culinary adventure that inspires. The adventure Buford is on, intermingled with the quest through history for Pasta, sparks another journey within for the reader beyond the book. The fascinating lineage of different chefs that shapes their art is equally inspiring. Here's to the peposo notturno and to finding that perfect egg.
You will be hungry from page one. A brilliant, easily readable, and intimately revealing view into the business of fine Italian restaurant cooking at the very highest levels. A feast for the soul.
An excellent novel if you ever wanted to know about the inner workings of a restaurant, of Chef Mario Batali, or of the true origins of pasta (really! Egg anyone?).
If you're an enthusiastic cook, more confident than competent (that is, keen but fundamentally clueless), then this is right for you.