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The School of Essential Ingredients

by Erica Bauermeister

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1,7981399,308 (3.77)138
Eight students gather in Lillian's Restaurant every Monday night for cooking class. It soon becomes clear, however, that each one seeks a recipe for something beyond the kitchen as Chef Lillian, a woman whose connection with food is both soulful and exacting, helps them to create dishes whose flavor and techniques expand beyond the restaurant and into the secret corners of her students' lives.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 138 (next | show all)
This is a tough one. I wanted to love it but I didn't. I love the concept of the cooking class and the lives of the students coming together but I found the message (food is sexy & sensual) overpowering and some of the writing cloying.

I guess I say read it from the library but go into with with a grain of salt. Do not but it. ( )
  hmonkeyreads | Jan 25, 2024 |
Cute quick read, one of those lots of stories brought together, at least one story teller will "speak to you" for sure ( )
  hellokirsti | Jan 3, 2024 |
I liked this story but at times found the descriptive language to be a bit indulgent. I loved how the characters were introduced and developed within the story. I especially loved the mentions of life in the NW. I miss it. ( )
  MsTera | Oct 10, 2023 |
I was recommended this book by a friend as I happen to be somewhat of a foodie - food and I are great friends and I enjoy eating it, making it and reading about it.

This leads me to what I first liked about this novel - the abundance of food. However, for some strange reason, by the end, the description of the meals began to become monotonous and over exaggerated, not every single meal you eat is orgasmic or absolute divine perfection.

The characters, whilst originally interesting, became actual 'characters' rather than anything resembling a real person, especially Lillian. Every sentence that came out of her mouth had me cringing with its corniness and hyperbole, she was over the top. It seemed the other characters then began to become her clones, each going goo goo over whatever they happened to put in their mouth that day to the point it was embarrassing.

The book severely lacked subtlety - it was overly verbose and cheesy. The 'romance' in this novel felt forced and almost romance-lit-like, nothing felt real about it.

I'm all for wonderful experiences with food, but having a dish suddenly solve everything in your life and making everything rainbows and unicorns was too much. On the plus side, it was very easy to read. ( )
  spiritedstardust | Dec 29, 2022 |
Ok read. ( )
  wincheryl | Jun 20, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 138 (next | show all)
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For Heidi, Karin, and Dad
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Lillian loved best the moment before she turned on the lights.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Published under two titles: The School of Essential Ingredients, The Monday Night Cooking School
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Eight students gather in Lillian's Restaurant every Monday night for cooking class. It soon becomes clear, however, that each one seeks a recipe for something beyond the kitchen as Chef Lillian, a woman whose connection with food is both soulful and exacting, helps them to create dishes whose flavor and techniques expand beyond the restaurant and into the secret corners of her students' lives.

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Book description
Once a month on a Monday night, eight students gather in Lillian's resturant for a cooking class. Among them is Claire, a young woman coming to terms with her new identity as a mother; Tom, a lawyer whose life has been overturned by loss; Antonia, an Italian kitchen designer adapting to life in America; and Carl and Helen, a long-married couple whose union contains surprises the rest of the class would never suspect. The students have come to learn the art behind Lillian's soulful dishes, but it soon becomes clear that each seeks a recipe for something beyond the kitchen. And, one by one, they are transformed by the aromas, flavors, and textures of what they create... (978-0-425-23209-5)
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