The School of Essential Ingredients: Erica Bauermeister

10 May

The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister
Published:  01-05-10
272 pages
Purchased for $1.00 at our local Borders’ closing sale
5/5 stars




I’ve had this book on my To Be Read list since it was first published, but I just finally got around to reading it last week.  I admit that when I stumbled across it at our local Borders’ closing sale (I happened to hit the sale – for the third time – two days before they shut their doors, and everything was priced at $1.00), I was that bookish nerd that let out a little squeal and danced a happy little jig in the middle of the store. Yup, that was me.  Ain’t no shame in my game.

Once I had the book in my hands, I then let it sit in my TBR pile for at least another month. What in the heck was I thinking??? Once I started reading this little gem of a novel (and who doesn’t adore that cover?), I read it before bed. I read it while I bathed. I read it walking into work, on the elevator, on the escalator. I read it at stoplights.  And even more telling, when I wasn’t reading it, I couldn’t quit thinking of it.

It’s fairly obvious what the story is about simply by the title, so I won’t go into a detailed plot summary.  As a fan of food writing, be it fiction or non-fiction, I knew I would probably enjoy SOEI.  I just didn’t realize how I would end up emailing quotes to friends and family because the stories of these characters touched me so very deeply.  How I would immediately pass it on to a fellow booklover, just so we could discuss it as soon as possible.  How I would scavenge the internet for reviews so I could see if it had the same effect on other readers.  (And yes, based upon what I found, it appeared that I wasn’t the only one who adored it.)

Take, for example, this particular passage:

“I used to know a sculptor,” Isabella said, nodding.  “He always said that if you looked hard enough, you could see where each person carried his soul in his body.  It sounds crazy, but when you saw his sculptures, it made sense.  I think the same is true with those we love,” she explained.  “Our bodies carry our memories of them, in our muscles, in our skin, in our bones.  My children are right here.”  She pointed to the inside curve of her elbow.  “Where I held them when they were babies.  Even if there comes a time when I don’t know who they are anymore, I believe I will feel them here.”
That quote alone is destined to become one of my all time favorites.  It’s probably a good thing that I’ve already loaned the book out, or I would sit here and post quote after quote after quote after quote- till you really felt no need to read the book at all.  But since I don’t, and I can’t, I highly recommend that you run out and obtain a copy to read.  It’s a “don’t miss this!” kind of debut novel. 
Side note: The only perk of having waited so long to read it is that Erica Bauermeister has a new book coming out in June.  Less of a wait now;)

2 responses to “The School of Essential Ingredients: Erica Bauermeister

  1. fuzzycricket

    May 10, 2011 at 6:20 pm

    Score! Happy dance and squeal indeed. As you should have. I love the quote you chose and this is now on My List. I love those books that get under our skin and make us think about them all day. That’s good writing and good story telling at its finest. Thanks for the recommendation!

    • Jessica

      May 10, 2011 at 6:58 pm

      I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. I’ve been following the author on Facebook and she’s so lovely that it makes me love her writing even more;) I can’t wait till the next one!!


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