Dirt

Dirt

Adventures in Lyon as A Chef in Training, Father, and Sleuth Looking for the Secrets of French Cooking

Book - 2020
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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." -- The Wall Street Journal

What does it take to master French cooking? This is the question that drives Bill Buford to abandon his perfectly happy life in New York City and pack up and (with a wife and three-year-old twin sons in tow) move to Lyon, the so-called gastronomic capital of France. But what was meant to be six months in a new and very foreign city turns into a wild five-year digression from normal life, as Buford apprentices at Lyon's best boulangerie, studies at a legendary culinary school, and cooks at a storied Michelin-starred restaurant, where he discovers the exacting (and incomprehensibly punishing) rigueur of the professional kitchen.

With his signature humor, sense of adventure, and masterful ability to bring an exotic and unknown world to life, Buford has written the definitive insider story of a city and its great culinary culture.
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2020.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780307271013
0307271013
Branch Call Number: 641.5092 BUFORD B
Characteristics: 413 pages : 25 cm

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m
Mehling1
Dec 12, 2020

OK book about the life of working as an apprentice in Lyon, but I expected it to be better.

p
phyllis94941
Nov 12, 2020

This was so disappointing and didn't live up to its subtitle: "Adventures in Lyon as a Chef in Training, Father, and Sleuth Looking for the Secret of French Cooking." The author could have cut the word count in half and it would still have been tedious. The premise sounds entertaining as New York-based author Bill Buford decides to move to Lyon with his wife and three-year-old twin boys in order to learn how to cook French cuisine, without even knowing how to speak French. But his brash attitude as a New Yorker journalist gives way to entitlement as he talks his way into working in the kitchen of a restaurant in Lyon, into a cooking school, and a bakery. Buford accurately yet repeatedly details the bullying back-of-the-house attitude of the French chefs, which may sound familiar to those who have read Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential.

I read most of this 400+ page book, but have to admit that I started to skim after the halfway mark. I could no longer tolerate the excruciating detail about every.little.thing - from a solo hike, to butchering a pig, to making a sauce, to searching out the wheat from which the most delicious bread in the world is made. The chapters were too long, as if Buford just didn't know when to stop or how to pace himself. The same goes for his stay in Lyon. He ended up staying five years!

I found the praise on the back of the book from well-known authors and respected chefs to be empty and misleading, unless they didn't read the same book I did. I give it 1.5 stars and can't recommend.

e
Einer2
Nov 04, 2020

For much of this book I found myself not liking Mr. Buford. He seems to brag about his tardiness on many occasions. The most ludicrous being when knew he was clumsy and slow and still didn't have the courtesy to show up in time to do the job he was given an opportunity to do. He also seems to believe that because he shows up with a book he has written he will be allowed to gain experiences he does not have the qualifications for. His admission, at his undeserved position as a stagier, that he did not know how to make a vinaigrette after begging his way into L'Institute Bocuse for advanced training was unbelievable to me. Also had to wonder how he funded this adventure!!!

j
jettrt
Jul 28, 2020

Please order Kindle edition. Thanks

t
TheresaAJ
Jul 13, 2020

Buford, author and New Yorker magazine staffer, details his 5-year stint in Lyon, France trying to learn French cooking in restaurant kitchens. As he quickly learned, this experience is not for the feint of heart, especially an American heart. While Buford battles his way through the French kitchen learning experience, his wife is raising toddler twin boys in a very different culture. The author also explores his theory that Italian Renaissance cookery was the basis for modern French cuisine (not a popular theory in Lyon). Rich in English vocabulary and French cooking jargon and curses, this book clearly illustrates the old adage, "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen."

s
SandraMB
Jul 01, 2020

This book hits all the marks for me - Buford's writing style, the fact he lived and worked there for five years as a 'kitchen slave' while managing to meet top French chefs, the fact that he brought his 3 year old twin boys with him who ate real French food at school always ending with cheese, the description of the extreme demands of working in a classical French kitchen, the French obsession with the finest ingredients and keeping tradition alive.

And let's not forget Bob's bread!

I look at pictures of even average restaurants in Lyon and ask myself why we in North America can't do appealing plating, serve REAL bread, and provide a classic sauce from scratch with our meals for an affordable price.

If the French can do it, why can't we?

m
MargeBanks
Jun 09, 2020

Jayni and Frank

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TheresaAJ
Jul 13, 2020

"I counted the hours, not without pride: sixteen to eighteen hours per day (with a short-but-not-guaranteed afternoon break) times five days. An eighty-hour week, plus or minus."

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