‘A chomping, romping, savoury tour de force: by turns hilarious, and seriously thought provoking’ Simon Schama
*A BOOK OF THE YEAR IN THE OBSERVER AND NEW YORK TIMES*
For most of his adult life, Bill Buford had secretly wanted to find himself in France, in a French kitchen, having mastered the art of French haute cuisine. And where better than Lyon, the most Frenchly authentic of cities and the historic gastronomic capital of the world? There were a few obstacles: he didn’t speak a word of French, he had no formal training, he didn’t know a soul in Lyon, and his wife and two twin toddlers currently lived in New York City.
So begins Bill Buford’s vivid, hilarious, intimate account of his five-year odyssey in French cuisine. After realising that a stage in France was the necessary first step, he moves with his young family to Lyon. Studying at L’Institut Bocuse, cooking at the storied, Michelin-starred La Mere Brazier, enduring the endless hours and exacting rigeur of the kitchen, Buford becomes a man obsessed – with proving himself on the line, proving that he is worthy of the gastronomic secrets he is learning, proving that French cooking actually derives from (mon dieu!) the Italian. As he befriends the local baker, attends a pig slaughter, and gradually earns the acceptance of the locals and his fellow chefs, Buford comes to understand the true grit, precision and passion of the French kitchen.
Warm, insightful and richly entertaining, Dirt is a feast of a book, which is sure to become a classic of food writing on France.
A warm and funny and very delicious story about a man late in life falling in love with cooking . . . Buford [is] an energetic, exquisite writer . . . Once he arrives in Lyon for the serious instruction Dirt has really hit its stride, tasty and Dickensian in its characterizations and also ridiculous. -- John Freeman * Lit Hub * In Dirt, Bill Buford talks his way into the cooking schools, bakeries, and chefs' kitchens of Lyon - in French, yet - while staying (mostly) in his family's good graces. The result is a book to drool for. Magnifique! -- Mary Norris As a young cook, I dreamed of one day working in the formidable French kitchens depicted in Dirt, but I never got the chance. Now, after reading this unprecedented inside account from one of the greatest writers of his generation, I'm convinced I actually did. Bill's latest is required reading for anyone with a love of history, good eating, and masterful storytelling. -- David Chang Pure pleasure. Masterfully written. If you care at all about food, about writing, about obsessive people with a sense of adventure, you have to read this book. It is, in a word, wonderful. -- Ruth Reichl Bill Buford's Dirt - his memoir of an apprenticeship in the unforgiving temples of French cuisine in Lyon - is a chomping, romping, savoury tour de force: by turns hilarious (often at his own expense); and seriously thought provoking about our relationship with cooking and appetite. Rabelais would have loved it. You finish it stuffed and groggy with happy illumination but as with every great feast, wanting even more! -- Simon Schama A vivid and often laugh-out-loud account... 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. * Publishers Weekly, starred review * A welcome reminder of simpler times . . . Buford's writing is filled with humor and heart . . . He unveils the importance of understanding a city in order to better prepare its dishes . . .[and] underlines a deeply resonant tenet of life: the value of community. -- Annabel Gutterman * TIME * This book may well be an even greater pleasure than its predecessor. Moving himself, his wife and their two young boys to Lyon, Buford sets out, with characteristically self-deprecating humor, not merely to learn the techniques of French cuisine, but to understand its essence . . . Most enjoyable are the apprenticeships in which he sets out to master the five mother sauces, bake the perfect baguette and construct the same misleadingly named 'duck pie' . . . Delightful, highly idiosyncratic. -- Lisa Abend * The New York Times Book Review *
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