December 8, 2007
It’s easy to read, full of unusual stories, unusual people and gastronomic adventure, but it makes you feel weird.
You see, those chefs you worship–you watch them on the Food Network, you buy their cookbooks–well, they’re creeps. Not just creeps, but obsessive, sadistic cokeheads.Working in a kitchen is brutal (why would anyone do this?!), and people (especially said sadistic chefs) are cruel to you, and you burn yourself and you sweat and you do the same thing thousands of times in a row and you get paid hardly anything for it. For those who don’t shy away from back-stabbing and misery, this might work.
Buford’s vision of Italy (where you spend a drawn-out last third of the book) as food nirvana seems like the writing of a true disciple, one so bent on finding the truth in his craft that he ignores that he’s surrounded by psychopaths and that he’s developed OCD.
Buford’s a good writer–you won’t be bored or cliche-riddled–and if you’re a foodie (I am), you’ll learn a lot of great new stuff. But you might feel less like Mario Batali is a nice guy.
p.s. This was my 50th book read this year!
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