Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany
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A highly acclaimed writer and editor, Bill Buford left his job at The New Yorker for a most unlikely destination: the kitchen at Babbo, the revolutionary Italian restaurant created and ruled by superstar chef Mario Batali.
Finally realizing a long-held desire to learn first-hand the experience of restaurant cooking, Buford soon finds himself drowning in improperly cubed carrots and scalding pasta water on his quest to learn the tricks of the trade. His love of Italian food then propels him on journeys further afield: to Italy, to discover the secrets of pasta-making and, finally, how to properly slaughter a pig.
Throughout, Buford stunningly details the complex aspects of Italian cooking and its long history, creating an engrossing and visceral narrative stuffed with insight and humor.
proibiti, illegal eggs, because they came from the grandmother’s chickens and hadn’t been examined by a European Union official. I bought them and they were good, although I’m not sure whether their appeal was in their flavor or in shells that hadn’t been blemished by a bureaucratic stamp. In my case, there was no need for a USDA inspection, because I was buying a living pig from Paul’s neighbor—in effect, purchasing a pet—rather than a dead one from, say, a butcher. But when Jessica and I
“silverside.” These were cuts from a cow’s hindquarters, but none were what the Maestro had held in his hand. Instead they were complex pieces that had to be roasted slowly before they would be edible. The Maestro’s was a simple cut, which cooked uniformly and quickly. The discovery led to a modest epiphany. Until now, I’d assumed that there was a universal lexicon of meat terms (after all, a leg is a leg is a leg), which, like any other piece of language, could be translated from one country to
tranquillity I hadn’t witnessed before: a patience, a sense of order, a stable relationship to a world that was old and trustworthy. This was new to me. It was also very different from the rest of the butcher shop. At the best of times, Dario was not one of the planet’s more serene individuals. (“It is my affliction, I have too much passion, I don’t know how to control it.”) As it happens, he was, on my return, even more unstable than normal. He and Ann Marie had split up, and Dario was either
years later, his annual order was fifty pounds, enough for two hundred and fifty meals. He doubled it in 1817, plus an extra fifty pounds for his grandson, and doubled it again the following year: having acquired the taste, he, like so many of us, couldn’t get enough.) Macaroni has always been big business; fresh pasta never could be. Fresh pasta was made in the North, usually by women in homes or small kitchens, not in factories, and by its perishable nature was impossible to export. It was
plus red onions, red chilies, and red wine vinegar, an early expression of the now very familiar sweet-sour-spicy approach—is what persuaded the wary people of the Italian peninsula that the suspiciously shiny American fruit that acts like a vegetable wouldn’t kill them. Could there have been anything more important? Taken together, these two recipes, the eggy noodle and the sauce that goes on top, have been at the heart of pasta preparations from their publication until today. In the history of