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Dirt: Adventures in Lyon as a Chef in Training, Father, and Sleuth Looking for the Secret of French Cooking Kindle Edition
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“You can almost taste the food in Bill Buford’s Dirt, an engrossing, beautifully written memoir about his life as a cook in France. . . .Buford brings a novelistic approach to his story; he is both observerand participant. He’s an entertaining, often comical, raconteur.” —The Wall Street Journal
“Blazingly entertaining and frequently scalding.” —NPR
“A delightful, highly idiosyncratic exploration. . . . [Dirt] may well bean even greater pleasure than its predecessor.” —The New York Times Book Review
"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
“[Buford] is knowledgeable, quick, and funny—and Dirt is a work of cultural, historical, and gastronomical depth that reads like an action memoir. . . . He truly took me to the heart of French cuisine.” —Eleanor Beardsley, NPR
“A satisfying and envy-inspiring travelogue.” —Joumana Khatib, The New York Times
"Bill’s ability to fully immerse himself in a foreign place, seemingly at the drop of a dime, is always a sight to behold. With Dirt, Bill dives deep into the unforgiving kitchen culture of Lyon and expresses what it’s truly like to be a cook in this legendary food city.” —Marcus Samuelsson
“[Buford’s] writing is filled with humor and heart. . . . [He] underlines a deeply resonant tenet of life: the value of community.” —Time
“Required reading for anyone with a love of history, good eating, and masterful storytelling.” —David Chang
“Buford has created a unique brand of immersive food writing that channels some of the greatest ever American investigative journalism. In Dirt, he ‘embeds’ his entire family in Lyon, to uncover the heart of French cuisine, its glory, its glaring insecurities and uncertain future.” —Financial Times
“A serious and comprehensive history of French cooking, and of [Buford’s] adopted city.” —The Boston Globe
“Bill Buford is an enthusiast of the highest order. His deep dive into Lyonnais cuisine is a detective story, a love story, and an act of bare-knuckled reverence. It’s earthy, brainy, and delicious.” —Pamela Druckerman
“A great American architect of words.” —The Washington Post
“[A] rollicking, food-stuffed entertainment. . . . Gourmets and gourmands will savour this account of [Buford's] five-year adventure—and so will students of the author’s curious, compelling character.” —The Spectator
“[Dirt] presents an opportunity to examine what it means, exactly, to be an eater. . . . Buford has extended the old adage, You are what you eat, to something broader, encompassing history, culture, the world: We are what we eat. That notion has never rung truer.” —The New Republic
“An energetic, delightful writer, painting scenes like a first-class impressionist. . . . Buford has a knack for bringing the foibles of the human condition to life with an appetite for the eccentric and an eye for detail.” —Milk Street Magazine
“Alternatively buoyant, humorous, and thoughtful, Dirt is a very enjoyable feast.” —Jacques Pépin
“A remarkable book. . . . Buford’s a delightful narrator, and his stories . . . are by turns funny, intimate, insightful, and occasionally heartbreaking.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
- ASIN : B081M7TWY5
- Publisher : Vintage (May 5, 2020)
- Publication date : May 5, 2020
- Language : English
- File size : 2699 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 410 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #33,869 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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But really the book has so many interesting things to say beyond the cliche of “let’s do something off the beaten path and write a memoir about it.” The book explores the relationship of France and Italy—both culinary and cultural—the peculiar role food plays in French culture, what life is like in Lyons beyond the typical romantic image of France and the changing aspect of male chauvinism in French kitchens.
Ultimately, it gets at something even deeper. How food is tied up in what it means to be human. And while the theme of unnatural, processed food and its effects on this primordial relation are well known, it has rarely been plumbed better.
Don’t get me wrong. There are many pages of meal creation that will delight any foodie. But the author aims at something deeper, beyond the surface descriptions of exotic French dishes and eccentric coworkers.
I thought this book would be a pleasant diversion but I actually would recommend this book to anyone wanting to understand contemporary France as well as those simply with an interest in French cuisine. If nothing else, it carries an intellectual heft not common in mere diversions. Somewhat like a good restaurant it has something appetizing for every reader.
Having learned a lot about working in a restaurant kitchen (Babbo), Italian cooking, and the Italian approach to food (see Heat published in 2006), Buford feels compelled to take the same approach with French cuisine. His wife, who speaks French and is a wine expert, is supportive and crucial to making it happen. They end up living in Lyon, France, with young twin sons for five years from, I believe, 2009 to 2013.
Although Buford had some pretty good introductions to French Chefs via his contacts in the U.S, it was no easy matter getting into a French kitchen. He studied at a famous culinary school there, worked at a well known restaurant, and also a bakery and participated in more rustic food preparations such as the butchering of a pig and making of sausage. I think it helped that he did a couple episodes of a food show for the BBC while there and he and his wife were able to form friendships that exposed them to more of the culture than a tourist would be able to discover.
He wonderfully describes the French kitchen team “le brigade” and the seriousness they bring to their craft and their adherence to the rules. These rules become the foundation for tremendous creativity as demonstrated by one of his mentors, the chef Michel Richard. Working in a French kitchen iis extremely demanding work, and there is a pride in the rigor and discipline they have. Unfortunately, bullying also seems to be prevalent.
One of the themes running through the book is the relationship between Italian cooking and French cooking--namely which influenced the other--and Buford dives deep into Renaissance history. This was a topic I had little familiarity with and found it interesting, although it got a little tedious for me during points such as the comparison of French ragout to Italian ragu and the changing meaning of the term vinaigrette.
I would have liked it if there had been pictures included in the book. If you’re curious like me, search in Google Maps for “Boulangerie Saint Vincent, Lyon France,” to see the bakery that Bill’s friend, Bob, owned and view the neighborhood where the Bufords lived. The backside of that building is the fresque of the Lyonnais.
Top reviews from other countries
One passage where his detachment landed with a thud was when his wife suddenly announced, seemingly out of the blue, that the family is moving back to America and all he can muster is ‘when did this happen’?...and then, bang, they are at the airport. No natural display of disappointment here - too close - let’s just sweep that one under the rug.
This detachment happens several times throughout the book as he invites you along on his epicurean journey but leaves you out of any emotional connection. Puzzling indeed.