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Download Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany epub

by Bill Buford

A highly acclaimed writer and editor, Bill Buford left his job at The New Yorker for a most unlikely destination: the kitchen at Babbo, the revolutionary Italian restaurant created and ruled by superstar chef Mario Batali.

Finally realizing a long-held desire to learn first-hand the experience of restaurant cooking, Buford soon finds himself drowning in improperly cubed carrots and scalding pasta water on his quest to learn the tricks of the trade. His love of Italian food then propels him on journeys further afield: to Italy, to discover the secrets of pasta-making and, finally, how to properly slaughter a pig. Throughout, Buford stunningly details the complex aspects of Italian cooking and its long history, creating an engrossing and visceral narrative stuffed with insight and humor.

Download Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany epub
ISBN: 1400034477
ISBN13: 978-1400034475
Category: Cookbooks
Subcategory: Regional & International
Author: Bill Buford
Language: English
Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (June 26, 2007)
Pages: 336 pages
ePUB size: 1884 kb
FB2 size: 1580 kb
Rating: 4.1
Votes: 800
Other Formats: txt lit docx azw

This is an insider's view of an acclaimed New York City restaurant. The author spent more than a year as a line cook in Mario Batali's restaurant Babbo. He goes in as a semi-successful home cook with no restaurant experience and emerges as a veteran of nearly every station--prep cook, grill, pasta, etc. He quickly sees the complexity within a restaurant environment and begins to understand how food is transformed from raw ingredients and delivered onto a plate. He then decides he wants to know more and makes several trips to Italy to learn pasta and butchering techniques from old school masters.

The book is easy to read and thoroughly entertaining. The second half in Italy can get just slightly tedious, (which prevents a perfect score), but the last chapter is a great payoff and ending to the book. A must read for fans of food and those contemplating a life as a chef.
Like a master chef's kitchen, Bill Buford's journal of his food journey is rich and sensual with flavor and aromas.

An established magazine editor and successful author Bill Buford has always been an amateur cook, but in his late forties he decides that living in an ephemeral and materialistic world of slight success, fashion, and fame is not enough for him. He wants to understand the soul of things, and ultimately that means understanding where the food he eats comes from and how it is best prepared, and while at first that means writing a magazine article on Mario Batali, the search ultimately takes him to Italy where he learns to make fresh pasta, butcher pigs and cows, and while falling in love with tradition and heritage also come to see poignantly how they can change and disappear as well.

The book swings back and forth between two places. First there's Buford's hometown of New York City, where Mario Batali runs the finest Italian restaurant in America and where Bill Buford has situated himself as a kitchen slave. Then there are the hills of northern Italy where Batali learned the power and allure of true and traditional Italian cooking, and where Buford traveled many times in the search for the essence of food, and the origin of things.

Batali's Michelin three-star kitchen is a source of endless conflict, and Buford describes it brilliantly as though the kitchen staff were a ragtag motley platoon of misfits and maniacs caught at war. The hills of Italy, on the other hand, are an endless source of fascination and wonder for Buford, and it is in these sections -- powered by Buford's love -- that are slow and at times ponderous to read.

Like a brilliantly prepared Italian dish, "Heat" is full of subtle and sublime flavor, created by the author's wonderful and precise use of detail and food nouns, and while this like good food can activate all our senses and stimulate intoxicating memories it can also be at times too rich and thus at times a bit revolting. (Was an entire chapter on polenta really necessary?)

And this book can only be truly appreciated by the true gourmand, as it is so densely packed with culinary terminology and thinking.

While Buford's preparation and execution can be a bit much, I did come away learning a lot from this book, lessons that will stay with me for the rest of my life, as I deepen my culinary practice: How simplicity can take a lifetime to master, how a food tastes of its ingredients (case in point is how pasta is defined by the quality of its egg) and of the devotion of its practitioners (it seems that only petite Italian women with very small hands with nothing to do all day but make tortellini can make true tortellini), how meat is defined not by the breed of the animal but by the breeding of the animal (feed a cow real grass, and let it grow strong and big by letting it till the fields and roam the pastures, and you'll have excellent beef), and how food can unite families and define cultures like nothing else (Italians believe they invented food).

And so unfortunately with the advent of modernization, technology, and globalization, food culture is slowly being lost to us. Here is an Italian master's poetic and poignant description of what we have lost:

"In the seventies, the chianine were good. They tasted of the hillsides and clean air. They ate grass and had acres to roam in, and, because they were work animals, they were exercised constantly. The meat was firm and pure. It might take two weeks before it softened up. Today, the chianine do not have hillsides to roam in, because you use a tractor to work vines, not an animal. And instead of grass, they eat cereals, grains, and protein pellets: mush. They eat mush. They taste of mush. And after the animal is slaughtered, the meat behaves like mush: it disintegrates in days. A chianina is a thing to flee from!"
This is an accomplished piece of writing and I enjoyed reading it very much. The author is evocative of Bill Bryson in his witty self-deprecating manner and the wonderful way in which he weaves together history and humor. What surprised me, however, was that the author is an experienced professional editor, as there were too many (unnecessary!) parentheticals, which significantly disturbed the flow of the narrative. Particularly towards the end he became enamored with certain words, such as "evanescent," as though he had tired of attempting to vary his vocabulary, which was considerably rich and varied throughout the book. His character sketches and descriptions of the people he worked alongside are exquisite.

Only a very small sliver of the population can afford to work for many months for free, to shuttle back and forth between New York and Italy while maintaining a New York City apartment, and dine regularly on the very best hand-made, small-batch, "slow" food. It's one thing to illuminate those artisans, such as those of Northern Italy the author had spent time with, who are keeping old traditions alive. It's another thing altogether to expect that large-scale, factory-made food is going anywhere soon. With more and more people to feed, and more and more of them demanding increased quantities of meat, the privileges enjoyed by the Bill Bufords of this world will continue to be an extreme rarity, even as it serves to inspire the rest of us to care a bit more about our traditions, the food we eat, and how we prepare it.