Book-In-Focus: Dirt: Adventures in Lyon as a Chef in Training, Father, and Sleuth Looking for the Se
" 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, former editor of Gourmet and author of Save Me the Plums
About the Book
Bill Buford turns his inimitable attention from Italian cuisine to the food of France. Baffled by the language, but convinced that he can master the art of French cooking — or at least get to the bottom of why it is so revered—he begins what becomes a five-year odyssey by shadowing the esteemed French chef Michel Richard, in Washington, D.C. But when Buford (quickly) realizes that a stage in France is necessary, he goes—this time with his wife and three-year-old twin sons in tow--to Lyon, the gastronomic capital of France.
Studying at L'Institut Bocuse, cooking at the storied, Michelin-starred La Mère Brazier, enduring the endless hours and exacting rigeur of the kitchen, Buford becomes a man obsessed with proving himself on the line, proving that he is worthy of the gastronomic secrets he's learning, proving that French cooking actually derives from (mon dieu!) the Italian.
With his signature humor, sense of adventure, and masterly ability to immerse himself--and us--in his surroundings, Bill Buford has written what is sure to be the food-lover's book of the year.
Reviews and What Readers Say
“ It seems like a crazy idea to pick up stakes from a comfortable life in New York and move your wife and three-year-old twins to a city in France (not Paris) to look for a job in a restaurant. It might make more sense if you are Bill Buford, author of Heat, the 2006 book that did for Italian food what, frankly, Dirt will do for French cuisine. But that doesn’t make it any easier. Bill Buford is a foodie with literary chops—he founded the literary magazine Granta and was fiction editor of the New Yorker--but he is also an adventurer, and apparently a very hard worker. After locating a home abroad (Buford’s wife is essential in many of his endeavors), enrolling his kids in a local school, learning French, studying technique at L’Institute Bocuse, and enduring fifteen hour days at a Michelin-starred restaurant in Lyon, the heart of French cuisine, he still managed to write down his experiences with humor and vibrancy. Dirt is the result of five years living and working in France, learning to know the people and their food, and getting to the heart of something—some feeling or quality of living—for which many of us are searching. ”
—Chris Schluep, Amazon Book Review
“ This book may well be an even greater pleasure than its predecessor. Moving himself, his wife and their two young boys to Lyon, Buford sets out, with characteristically self-deprecating humor, not merely to learn the techniques of French cuisine, but to understand its essence . . . Most enjoyable are the apprenticeships in which he sets out to master the five mother sauces, bake the perfect baguette and construct the same misleadingly named 'duck pie' . . . Delightful, highly idiosyncratic.”
—JLisa Abend, The New York Times Book Review
“ If you gobbled up Buford’s 2006 book Heat like a bowl of fabulous pasta, you’ll lap up this new volume like a vat of vichyssoise. ” —Bethanne Patrick, The Washington Post
“ There’s plenty for food lovers here, but the book is also a satisfying and envy-inspiring travelogue. ” —Joumana Khatib, The New York Times
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BILL BUFORD has been a writer and editor for The New Yorker since 1995. Before that he was the editor of Granta magazine for sixteen years and, in 1989, became the publisher of Granta Books. He is also the author of Among the Thugs (Norton, 1992). He was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, grew up in California, and was educated at UC Berkeley and Kings College, Cambridge, where he was awarded a Marshall Scholarship for his work on Shakespeare's plays and sonnets. He lives in New York City with his wife, Jessica Green, and their two sons.