Heat – Bill Buford

“You see statues everywhere to politicians, poets, bishops but none to cooks or bacon-curers or market gardeners.”

Heat is the featured book at Cook the Books.

George Orwell said it correctly…………

“A human being is primarily a bag for putting food into; the other functions and faculties may be more godlike, but in point of time they come afterwards. A man dies and is buried, and all his words and actions forgotten, but the food he has eaten lives after him in the sound or rotten bones of his children. I think it could be plausibly argued that changes of diet are more important than changes in dynasty or even of religion. The Great War, for instance, could never have happened if tinned food had not been invented. And the history of the past four hundred years in England would have been immensely different if it had not been for the introduction of root crops and various other vegetables at the end of the Middle Ages, and a little later the introduction of non-alcoholic drinks (tea, coffee, cocoa) and also of distilled liquors to which the beer drinking English were not accustomed. Yet it is curious how seldom the all-importance of food is recognized. You see statues everywhere to politicians, poets, bishops but none to cooks or bacon-curers or market gardeners.”

George Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier

One of the many quotes in the book Heat by Bill Buford which start us out; some mental food before you turn the page and read about Bill Buford’s culinary education. At the hands of Mario Batali…think about it… (Talk about the school of hard knocks..whew!)

Mario Batali scares me a little. He is a larger than life figure (seriously, no pun on his size) that can out eat, out party and out drink anyone. So….a book that paints you a rare portrait of what it’s like in Molto Mario’s kitchen? Yeah, I was interested in reading this one. It’s a culinary adventure book – like Kitchen Confidential – giving you a front row seat to the heated tempers behind the scenes of a five-star restaurant.

The details about the kitchen such as the staff interaction with one another, Buford’s treatment as a “kitchen slave,” the disgust and thinly veiled scorn over him not bringing his own knives. Buford takes you on a journey few will take. It was an education of butchering and the artistry involved, the ever widening array of ingredients presented, the skill of how to handle a knife as experienced by a novice, as Buford’s confidence and training increased…… humiliation, injury…..this book has all the makings of a very good Food Channel mini-movie!

We are meant to make one dish to capture the featured book. So much inspiration …So many dishes came to mind as I read this book…which one would I prepare? Toughie…but I choose one of the simplest lasagna.

Early on Buford states he was captivated by the kitchen’s smells and by midmorning, when many things had been prepared…all was cooked in quick succession. The waves of smell, like sounds of music, lamb, chocolate, tripe, octopus, huckleberries and then the comforting chemistry of veal, pork and milk as someone prepared a Bolognese.

Heat is a good read, lots of interetsing insight from a kitchen slave’s point of view, lots of good quotes and it’s entertaining.

Check out the website Cook the Books and join in the fun 🙂

“Cooking is the most massive rush. It’s like having the most amazing hard on, with Viagra sprinkled on top of it, and it’s still there twelve hours later.” Gordon Ramsey


2 thoughts on “Heat – Bill Buford

  1. Pingback: Sous Chef by Michael Gibney | Novel Meals

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