- Paperback: 336 pages
- Publisher: Anchor Canada; Reprint edition (June 26 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0385662572
- ISBN-13: 978-0385662574
- Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 1.8 x 20.3 cm
- Shipping Weight: 249 g
- Average Customer Review: 7 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #375,049 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany Paperback – Jun 26 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
A GLOBE & MAIL BEST BOOK OF 2006
A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF 2006
“Sharing Buford’s table talk is a pleasure not to be passed up.” — Michael Redhill, The Globe and Mail
“Heat is a book about obsession, written by a man in the grip of one. It is fuelled by food, but food is not its only subject — love, sex, comradeship, terror and pain are all part of the story too.” —The Telegraph
“A dazzling and funny account of two magnificently mad years.” —The Guardian
“[Buford] excels at vibrantly colourful descriptive writing. . . . What shines through is the story of Bill Buford falling in love with food, and his passionate journey of learning.” —Vancouver Sun
“it is clear that Buford can hold his own with anyone in the foodie pedantry stakes…. Heat is a subtle, expletive-heavy, genuine account of a writer’s engagement with food…. [an] ultimately nourishing book.” —Times Literary Supplement
“A messy, brilliant book, a high-brow kitchen soap opera, which never skates over the characters’ flaws but is suffused with an infectious love of food and the people who devote their lives to it.” —The Telegraph (UK)
“An incisive, cracklingly funny book.” —Time (Canada)
“Heat, tightly written, evocative and compelling, is a feast in its own right.” —Edmonton Journal
“A difficult book to put down — if Heat was a movie, you’d be viewing it from behind your fingers. The book is an intoxicating drug we can’t get enough of in paragraph after breathless paragraph of fast-paced and candid prose that leaves both the writer and the reader humbled. . . . And when one reluctantly turns the last page on Heat, it is with a sadness and a hungering for more.” — Toronto Sun
From the Hardcover edition.
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Buford describes what is involved to be a kitchen slave, and later, as he works his way up the kitchen chain, a line cook. His observations and theorizing about the life of those working in a restaurant kitchen are as revealing as those of Anthony Bourdain. Interspersed in these chapters is a bit about Batali's background -- his mother, a French Canadian, is the source of the red hair -- and how Batali started cooking in California before taking himself off to England and Italy to learn from the best. Buford then gets the idea that he should follow Batali's learning path and tries to learn about cooking from Batali's former mentors. This eventually leads Buford to Italy where he apprentices himself to a Tuscan butcher, who quotes Dante and chases away customers he thinks are too stupid to appreciate the quality of the products in his shop. As you read, you also begin to realize that Buford is very obsessive about matters which interest him. He also has a wife who is incredibly tolerant of his long absences and experiments like bringing home an entire pig to butcher and then cooking pork for seven meals in a row.
The book is very well written and divulges interesting tid bits about restaurants including the fact that restaurant reviewers, when recognized, will get a better meal than the average diner and ordering dinner shortly before the restaurant closes may mean that the meal is not cooked by the chef who may be finished for the night. But more than anything, this book is highly entertaining as Buford describes scenes such as his multiple maiming of his fingers and the conservation between two Tuscan men replete with insults about each other's genitalia. The book ends with Buford speculating about the origins of French cooking. I can only hope this means another book about his adventures in France.
In "Heat" Buford offers up a Memoir/Diary of his time at Babbo (he aptly calls this his "Kitchen Slave" days) as well as his trek to Tuscany to learn the art of Pasta and to Panzano to apprentice himself to the most famous butcher in Italy, Dario Cecchini.
As someone who has spent most of my life in and around the food business, I recognize so much of what Buford relates: "When I made the decision to become a Chef, I accepted I would never claim a sick day for the rest of my life. It's one of the sacrifices of my calling."
And while working the Grill station at Babbo, Buford waxes poetically: "The Grill Station is Hell. You stand at it for five minutes and you think this is what Dante had in mind. It is in a dark hot corner--hotter than any spot in the kitchen, hotter than anywhere else in your life" Or when Frankie at Babbo explains to Buford the simple pleasure of preparing food: "You make the food, (Frankie) said." "The simple good feeling he was describing might be akin to what you'd experience making a toy or a piece of furniture, or maybe even a work of art...this is an elementary thing that is seldom articulated."
Along with the Memoir musings, Buford also goes into the history of food. For one: When did the Italians begin to use Eggs to bind the flour for Pasta? Or when Caterina de Medici left Italy for France did she indeed take all of the Italian Court recipes and Cooks and began the French Cooking tradition? Good questions, easy to answer? Not really and Buford's investigation is fascinating.
Bill Buford has written a terrific book covering all manner of real-life experiences as well as relating his investigations of and on the philosophy and history of all manner of food, social and moral topics. But at the center of "Heat" stands the man Buford himself: committed, dedicated, funny, resourceful and witty as hell.
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