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Cannonball Read 2 #33: Heat by Bill Buford

The full title of this book is Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany. It sounds exciting, but for me it really was not. The writer, Bill Buford, decides--for reasons that are never fully explained--that he wants to be an apprentice to Mario Batali, a famous American chef. Buford takes a job in Batali's kitchen, travels around Italy learning the secrets of butchering, pasta making, and Italian food in general. There is a lot of information on Batali (most of which puts a serious dent in his Disney-fied Food Network image of cheerful sweetheart in goofy shoes--there is much discussion of his drug use, occasional bad temper, and lack of concentration on his business projects once he became famous) which can at least be somewhat amusing.

Maybe I would have enjoyed this book more if I were really into cooking. I bought it for The Boyfriend, and he really enjoyed it. I personally am not interested in reading five straight pages about digging through ancient Italian texts to discover when eggs started being used in pasta dough. I unfortunately do not care. I love pasta as much--or more!--than the next person, but I have no desire to understand its development and history. I just want to cover it in gravy and stuff it in my mouth.

For devoted foodies, this book is probably a great read. For anyone else, if you want to read funny writing about food, I recommend you try Anthony Bourdain instead.


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