Dirt: Adventures in Lyon as a Chef in Training, Father, and Sleuth Looking for the Secret of French Cooking

Bill Buford. Knopf, $28.95 (432p) ISBN 978-0-307-27101-3
Buford (Heat) delivers a vivid and often laugh-out-loud account of the tribulations, humblings, and triumphs he and his family endured in the five years they lived in France. In the mid-aughts, Buford determines to move to France to learn about French cooking, and after much effort he, his wife, and their twin toddler boys arrive in Lyon, a city notable for “its gritty darkness, the sewage smells,” where it’s initially impossible for Buford to find a kitchen to work in. It isn’t until he does a stint at a cooking school that he finagles a spot in a Michelin-starred restaurant, where the work is relentless and the culture unreformed (an Indonesian cook, for instance, is given the name Jackie Chan). Meanwhile, Buford’s twin boys become fully French, and Buford puts on his culinary deerstalker cap to investigate the influence of Italian cooking on French cuisine, and vice versa. Buford’s a delightful narrator, and his stories of attending a pig slaughter, befriending the owner of a local bakery, and becoming gradually accepted by the locals are by turns funny, intimate, insightful, and occasionally heartbreaking. It’s a remarkable book, and even readers who don’t know a sabayon from a Sabatier will find it endlessly rewarding. (May)
Reviewed on : 02/24/2020
Release date: 05/05/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 448 pages - 978-0-14-753070-7
Compact Disc - 978-0-7393-8173-1
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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