Kelas Memasak Lillian (The School of Essential Ingredients)
The School of Essential Ingredients mengikuti kehidupan delapan orang dengan latar belakang kehidupan berbeda yang berkumpul setiap Senin malam di kelas memasak yang diajar oleh Lillian, seorang koki terkenal yang keahliannya di dapur membuat dirinya menjadi sensasi di kota tersebut. Namun, tak lama kemudian terlihat jelas kalau setiap murid -termasuk pelayan remaja, ibu muda, duda, dan pasangan suami istri yang sudah lama menikah-datang mencari resep untuk sesuatu di luar dapur. Satu per satu mereka diubah oleh aroma, citarasa, dan tekstur makanan yang mereka masak, termasuk kue putih-di atas-putih yang mencetuskan pikiran sedih mengenai betapa rapuhnya sebuah pernikahan dan saus tomat pedas yang tampaknya menggairahkan sebuah cinta, tetapi mengakhiri cinta yang lain.
Perlahan, inti masakan Lillian mulai keluar dari restoran dan masuk ke pojok-pojok rahasia kehidupan murid-muridnya, yang hasilnya sangat mengejutkan, dan sering sekali lezat.
Bentang Pustaka 2009
Indira: Rasa mengungkapkan perasaan. Hmmm.. jadi penasaran, klo rasanya keasinan perasaannya seperti apa ya ?? yg pasti bukan ngebet kawin kan..???
An: satu bintang untuk cover na, satu lagi buat kompisisi na. 2 bintang total... it's wak ok.
secara keseluruhan tidak terlalu tertarik. mungkin karena kisah na cukup sederhana. seperti masakan yang mencoba menggabungkan bahan-bahan yang berasal dari banyak sumber, demikian juga kelas memasak ini. setiap anggota na memiliki kisah masing-masing, latar belakang masing-masing dan alasan masing-masing untuk bisa berada di kelas tersebut.
kapasitas kelas yang hanya terdiri dari 8 orang membuat peserta dan guru na bisa lebih intens terhadap hubungan antar personal. sampai akhir na... mereka yang datang dari semua latar belakang, alasan, masa lalu dan sekelimut masalah mereka bisa saling memahami satu sama lain. seperti memadukan bumbu dan bahan makanan dalam suatu sajian, kelas ini pun demikian. sampai tak perlu lagi kata, karena rasa bisa mengatakan segala na. rasa bisa menghancurkan atau justru memperbaiki emosi seseorang.
pilihan yang bijak bagi lilian yang tidak hanya sukses membuka restoran, tapi juga membagikan ilmu na bagi mereka yang ingin belajar. mengungkapkan perasaan melelui masakan. sayang na, dalam mendeskripsikan sesuatu, penulis terlalu rinci membuat deskripsi na... jadi kadang malah membuat pambaca keluar dari alur cerita yang ada karena deskripsi tersebut.
satu kutipan menarik.. kalau kata bukanlah warna dan pikiran bukanlah suara maka.. bacalah untuk menemukan warna dan rasa na :D
Indri: #2011-29# yang didapat ketika baca buku ini = lapar. masakannya enak-enak, kelas restoran, dan banyak resep italia favoritku, canneloni dengan saus yang menetes-netes, taart coklat berwarna putih, kepiting saus lemon. penguasa-penguasa dapur yang bikin teringat ketika baca buku ini :
1. Burger Blenger. Sudah pernah nyoba? Kalau menurut saya, rasanya enaakk sekali. Dagingnya yang dipanggang sampai empuk, tebal dan mantep lah (sangat jauh beda dengan mcD punya), sayurannya kyuri jepang yang segar dan tomat. Cheesenya selembar tidak merusak rasa asli burger. dan yang bikin lezat adalah sausnya!! Pasti itu bukan mayonaise botolan yang dioleskan, karena lebih kental creamnya, lebih terasa zaitunnya, bawang putih bubuk, serta ada rasa asam sedikit yang mungkin dari vinegar berkualitas bagus, dan kemerahan pasta tomat. Ukuran rotinya yang berdiameter kurleb 15 cm kelihatan mantap, gak seperti (lagi2) mcD punya. Jadi kalau aku melahap burger blenger ini, mungkin itulah rasanya seperti penduduk bikini bottom melahap krabby patty masakan spongebob. Harganya hanya 12rb per buah, lebih murah dibandingkan yang sama enaknya yaitu Burger King, tapi seharga 3x lipatnya.
Nah, kebetulan di kios Burger Blenger di ujung jalan Lamandau ini aku mendapatkan buku ini pada suatu sore, sambil menikmati sepotong burger. Menilik judulnya, semoga saja yang memberi tidak punya harapan besar bahwa aku akan bisa masak pada suatu hari..
2. tukang kue keren Salah satu orang yang saya kenal bisa memasak kue2 yang aneh-aneh dengan enak. Maksudnya bukan cuma sekedar cake atau kue karamel atau brownies, tapi kue2 yang bisa kita temui di toko kue yang bagus, seperti cheese cake, choco cake, black forest, cupcake. Lain kali mungkin kita bisa minta tiramisu atau opera cake tergantung dia dapet pesenan apa. Selain itu taste untuk makanan enak sangat jitu. Jadi kalau satu tempat kata tukang kue ini enak, maka makanannya emanglah enak. Sesuatu yang agak susah dilakukan olehku yang hanya mengenal enak dan enak sekali (apalagi kl gratis).
3. Ibuku Ditulis terakhir sebagai pamungkas. Ibulah yang tak pernah lelah mengajarkan masak ketika aku sekolah. Ibu yang tiap bulan puasa mengajakku membuat kue kastengel kesukaannya dan nastar kesukaanku. Dari ibu juga aku tahu kalau yang pertama dikocok dengan mixer adalah telur dan gula. Dari ibu juga aku tahu kalau memasukkan terigu ke dalam mixer harus diawur dengan sendok yang digoyang-goyang supaya jatuhnya sedikit-sedikit. Dan aku ingat berjanji untuk rajin masak kue supaya ayahku mau membelikan kami oven besar (dan tak kutepati sesudah 2 buah brownies dan 3 loyang pizza waktu SMA) Ibuku, yang membuat semur iga terenak dan pepes ikan mas terlezat kalau aku pulang ke Bandung, akhirnya pasrah ketika aku memang tidak punya minat memasak yang biasa2 saja. Bisa buat macaroni schotel tapi tidak bisa sayur asem. Menyadari kalau aku bukan ibu rumah tangga seperti dirinya, tapi mengikhlaskan aku sibuk bekerja. Merelakan bahwa aku tidak bisa memasak kue-kue, karena lebih memilih untuk memiliki gerinda dan gergaji listrik daripada mixer...
Jackie: ***oops--I misposted this review with the wrong book earlier this week. Sorry! I'm blaming holiday craziness!
This is a glorious book. It's about food as a touchstone and a means for memory, community, nurturing, healing, loving, seduction, sustenance, pleasure, joy, beginning, endings--life. It is the story of a cooking class that learns far more than culinary skills at the hands of a chef whose wisdom is not limited to food stuffs. The language is lush and decadent, rolling off the page and into your mind like a drug. I could taste, smell, see and feel everything as if I was indeed standing at the prep table myself. This is Bauermeister's first novel, but the power and magic in her prose tells me that it is far from her last.
Fans of Harris's Chocolat will be crazy about this book, but I would recommend it for foodies of any sort, and really just about anyone--this book casts a powerful spell that makes you see, feel and taste the world, even your memories, in a new, deep, consuming way.
K8e: This book was AMAZING!!!!! I was hungry while reading it, and hungry for more when I finished. Congrats to Erica for writing such an amazing first novel. I loved the how each chapter was a different characters point of view about their life and how they ended up in Lillian's cooking class. There were some of the best pieces of advice within the pages of this book. I think it really appeals to people who cook, or don't cook for that matter (like me) but now I want to really start learning how and experimenting in the kitchen!
Heather: Lillian has discovered that the art of preparing fine foods can heal many of the soul's wounds. Personal experience tells her so. As students filter into the cooking school that she holds in her restaurant every Monday night, she begins to teach them the secrets of culinary excellence, tailoring the meals to each particular person's unspoken need. As raw ingredients are transformed into luscious feasts, each person in the class is also changed. From the frazzled housewife to the couple with a stormy past, each person begins to realize that the lessons taught in Lillian's kitchen have far greater reach than the table. Carrying the secrets of the kitchen back into their own lives, the students start to experience greater understanding and healing in their own lives and begin to see the class as a refuge, where the compassion of one chef and the support of each other coalesce in unexpected and curative ways.
As a lover of food literature, I have to say this book was divine. I found the food descriptions to be wonderfully luscious and intriguing, and the human element of the story was great as well. The chapters, which focused in turn on each of the students, were crafted very compellingly because they seemed to be written in various styles. They were not so different as to be jarring, but the writing of each subject was done in a unique and singular way. I took this as a great sign of the author's versatility. She was able to make each character's chapter their own by making small changes in the writing technique.
I also loved the depth of emotion in this story. The author showed great empathy and consideration for her characters and was able to enrich the story with great emotional control. I loved the tenderness and humility of her characters. These were thoughtful and deep people who were able to express intrinsic emotions in proportion tho their circumstances. The emotional scenes in this book were written with great acuity and depth, and ranged from a light playfulness to a profound grief. I think the author used each blank canvas of character in magnetic and engaging ways that added substantial dimension to the book. Her characters weren't stereotypical knock-offs, they seemed like authentic and genuine people, like people you know, people you love. This book could have easily been overblown with drama, but the author was able to form her narrative and characters with a wonderful humility and temperance.
I found Lillian's character to be a marvel. She was consistently loving and calm towards all her students, showing by example the healing and restorative nature of life through food. I found Lillian to be a wonderfully frank and disarming person. Whenever she was on the page I knew that something great was about to be uncovered. I loved the way she enabled her students to make the most of their lessons, and their lives, both praising and teaching at the same time. She was a wonderfully competent character, both believable and charming. The story was extremely moving as well. It was both perceptive and profound, especially the chapters involving Tom, the man hiding a secret heartbreak. Although I loved Lillian, I think it was Tom and his story that moved me the most. I cried while reading Tom's story, sharing his anguish and despair with a heavy heart.
And have I mentioned the food? The food aspects of the story were fascinating and delectable. Many times throughout this book I read and reread the passages relating to the food. Her descriptions of the smells and look of the foods being prepared were like poetry, lyrical and passionate in a way I didn't expect, yet fully appreciated. I thought it was an exceptional additional benefit that almost all the food sections were written in the form of instructions, not recipes per se, but in a way that melded the story with bits of guidance that would make it easy for the reader to put together any of the featured dishes in the book.
This book was a delight on multiple levels. It was a combination of the tenacity of the human spirit and an ambrosial documentary of fine cuisine. I would have gladly read another hundred pages of this novel, had it only been written! This is not to say that the story ended unsatisfactorily, because it certainly did not. I just wanted more of this magnificent and savory tale. I thought the author did a wonderful job in both the idea and the execution. It was a quiet and uplifting tale full of scrumptious spreads. I would like to read this one again, just for the food this time. Highly recommended for foodies and those who are looking for a rich and satisfying novel.
Laurie: I was so impressed by The School of Essential Ingredients. Erica Bauermeister shows equal passion for the English language and food by painting beautiful pictures of food through creative and engaging language. The School of Essential Ingredients is a collection of short stories weaved around a Monday night cooking class. Each story focuses on a cooking class student and their life delving deep into their past or present situation. Erica Bauermeister manages to evoke a wide range of emotions. The students find they learn some of life's most important messages through the medium of food. The School of Essential Ingredients is delightfully charming even through stories of heartbreak.
Sara: I just finished reading this book, which I must say I might never have picked up, except for the fact that I won it in a Goodreads Free Book contest. I'm so glad I did, because the book is very, very good. Essentially, it's the story of Lillian and the restaurant she owns where she holds cooking classes. However, that doesn't begin to tell the story. Lillian has a magical talent, which is that she can select food for individuals that helps them remember critical events in their lives in a positive way, and heals whatever damage might have happened. Each character's back story is revealed with movement between their past life and the current recipe being prepared by the class. You have to read the book to see how this plays out for each of the people in Lillian's current class. Let's just say "essential ingredients" aren't just about the food. It will make you cry and it will make you laugh, and if you're like me, it will make you slowly prepare a favorite meal from your own past, and while cooking, bring up all of the memories associated with it.
The only detracting piece of this book for me is stylistic. Absent Bauermeister's penchant for similies that didn't always work for me, and there were quite a lot of them, I might have given this book 4 stars. These seemed especially evident in the earlier chapters, and faded as I kept reading. I was very glad I hadn't set it aside because of this quirk. It was well worth the time--in fact, I stayed up very late one night to finish it, and was sorry to see it end.
Joanna: A cabin weekend read, recommended (sadly) by NPR. I ended up reading parts aloud to Mara and Abby while we all read by the lake this weekend, because the writing was so florid (and because a grieving husband makes a very creepy tribute to his dead wife, involving her ashes and a cake served to her mourning friends). The author made a rookie mistakes of writing from the perspectives of all of the characters while maintaining the florid, simile-laden language with every character, so you are forced to believe that everyone naturally has a orgasmic experience while holding a piece of raw garlic (sigh). Also, these are characters who are all-wise, all-knowing, all-patient and all-loving. The one good thing is that it did make me want to go cook something.