Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry - Kathleen Flinn

Summary: Flinn's engaging account of her studies at famed French cooking school Le Cordon Bleu should strike a chord with anyone who has dreamed of leaving the rat race and following a passion for food. The main course, Flinn's narrative of her trials and triumphs as she moves through the three levels of cuisine, is supplemented by plentiful helpings of drama, romance and near-tragedy in her personal life. - Taken from Publisher's Weekly Review, via

My Review: This book was a fairly light, but enjoyable read. If I had any in depth knowledge of French cuisine I'd say it was like... such and such a food. And perhaps after reading this book I should have a bigger food vocabulary, however in terms of greater knowledge what really stands out cooking-wise for me is the process of boning a whole turkey, hacking off the head of a duck, skewering a live lobster, cleaving a leg of lamb into smaller pieces, shopping for a rabbit with its head still attached, and tripe. Oddly enough this is the stuff that stood out to me, not so much the simmering of a nice vichyssoise. Judge me as you will.

I think the author lucked while writing about her experiences while attending Le Cordon Blue cooking school AND about her blossoming romance with a guy who sounds excellent. While I was entertained by the cooking school details the book would have been a little flat if that were all. However the inclusion of the dashing boyfriend turned husband added a heavy serving of sparkle to the story.

Thankfully the writing style was a little less regimented than it could have been considering the author's background as a journalist. However near the end of the book her pattern of "tell charming anecdote, then craft a deeper meaning as a conclusion" became a touch irritatingly predictable.

Important note **Mindy are you reading** this book contains recipes. However I was generally perplexed by why the specific recipes were included. In a chapter about simple soup base she had a recipe for minestrone, in a chapter about cheese souffle there was a recipe for chocolate souffle and often a recipe she mentioned in one chapter was included in a different chapter half way through the book. Yes, there were recipes but in my view they did nothing to support the concept.

And then there is Paris. Ah, Paris. This is definitely a book for the francophile. While I'm not necessarily in that category this book did make me hungry, FAMISHED, for a few months of living in Paris. C'est merveilleux!

P.S. I promise my next read will be a novel, enough with the memoirs!

My Rating: 3 stars. I'll recommend this to select people but it isn't exactly 4 stars.

In One Sentence: While reading you'll happily think "I could do this" but then truthfully admit French cuisine has too much cleaving for you.


MindySue said...

Excellent review Em..and FUNNY! I love cooking books!

Kim R. said...

Ok, normally I would not go for this sort of book, but your review has truly tempted me to pick it up. It looks like a fun read!

Anonymous said...

I love food books. I came here looking for a few good titles to request at my local library (in the middle of nowhere virginia.)

This one goes on the list.

Liz said...

Did you ever see the original "Sabrina," the one with Audrey Hepburn? My sister and I to this day try to break eggs with one hand (well, I might add -- not just smack the thing) because that was one of the things Sabrina had to learn in cooking school in French. That pretty much sums up all my knowledge of French cooking school, though I must confess I love to cook. I also love memoirs, most of them anyway, so I'll have to give this a look. I recently finished a great one about living with mental illness, "bipolar bare." THe sex is pretty in-your-face, but it showed, so clearly, the wild forces and mania experienced by the mentally ill.


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