Tues. Nov. 10, 2020: Missed Gems — THE SCHOOL OF ESSENTIAL INGREDIENTS by Erica Bauermeister

I’m happy to be back blogging about books, reading pleasures, and the rest. Something I decided to start blogging about are older books that I discover and enjoy. I don’t just read whatever’s coming out now; I like to browse and find new-to-me books and authors from whenever, because so often, a book doesn’t get the attention it deserves when it’s published, due to other noise around it.

THE SCHOOL OF ESSENTIAL INGREDIENTS by Erica Bauermesiter was published in 2009. Publisher’s Weekly gave it a lovely review.

The book is built around the healing power of food, friendship, and created community.

One would have thought I’d known about it and read it at the time. But I didn’t.

Every few months, I put out a call for recommendations of books and authors, when I can’t find what I’m craving, and not sure where to look. I’m not sure if this book came to me through one of those recommendations, or if I found it while I was browsing the library catalogue looking for something else.

What I do know is that I found it, and thoroughly enjoy it.

Lilian learned the healing power of food as a child, when her grieving mother retreated from the world into books, leaving Lilian to handle the day-to-day business of survival. Lilian learned how to cook from need, and kept experimenting until she could bring her mother back to the present. Now, she runs a restaurant that gives cooking lessons.

The book follows the transformations and relationships built among her and eight students in one of her sessions. The characters face challenges, especially those of the heart and soul, which is a nice change from novels that have the Fate of the World as their fulcrum.

It’s a quiet novel, but it’s also beautiful and soothing. It’s a balm for a stressful, painful time. Not everything has to be about external mayhem. There are still heart and soul issues. This book examines them without wallowing in them. Most importantly, the novel is restorative for both its characters and the reader.

If you haven’t read it, I suggest you do.

I’ve made a list of her other books, and have them in my TBR pile.

Enjoy, my friends. Peace.