September 16, 2006
Bill Buford's Heat : An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany was one of the books I most anticipated reading this year. Buford, founding editor of the literary magazine, Granta, and an editor at the New Yorker, astounded me with his gritty portrayal of soccer hooligans in Among the Thugs (which I finally read earlier this year).
Heat tells several tales. Buford weaves the biography of FoodTV legend Mario Batali in with his own apprenticeship in Batali's Babbo kitchen, while also traveling to Italy to learn traditional Italian cooking. The resulting book combines history, biography, and self-revelation with a few recipes and cooking tips to form one of the best non-fiction books of the year. As a disclaimer, I have to admit that this book seems tailor-made for me. I am not only a foodie, but I love to cook, and am a huge fan of the orange-clogged myth that is Mario Batali.
My next book is Leif Tande's Morlac.