From the back cover ~~
The School of Essential Ingredients follows the lives of eight people from different walks of life who gather every Monday night for a cooking class taught by Lillian, a famous chef whole alchemy in the kitchen has made her a local sensation. It soon becomes clear, however, that each student – including a teenage waitress, a young mother, a widower, and a long-married couple – comes seeking a recipe for something beyond the kitchen. One by one they are transformed by the aromas, flavors, and textures of what they create, including a white-on-white cake that prompts wistful reflections on the sweet fragility of marriage and a peppery heirloom tomato sauce that seems to spark one romance but end another. Slowly, the essence of Lillian’s cooking appears to expand beyond the restaurant and into the secret corners of her students’ lives, with results that are utterly surprising, and often delicious.
What a wonderful book!! Over the course of several months eight students gather every Mondy at Lillian’s restaurant for cooking class. But these are no ordinary lessons. While Lillian does “teach” her students how to make each meal, the lessons come from how they react to the food, the memories that they invoke and the feelings that they inspire. Each section of the book is told from the perspective of a student, going back and forth between the past and what brought them to the class and the present and the food that they are creating. The writing is incredibly descriptive. The author does an amazing job of bringing you into the book with her. She has such a way of describing things in such detail that you feel as if you’re right there with her kneading the dough, shelling a crab or tasting the tiramasu as it melts in your mouth. A++