A slow-motion gastronomical feast and a rare chance for gourmet enthusiasts to witness the creative process behind some of...

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THE SORCERER'S APPRENTICES

A SEASON IN THE KITCHEN AT FERRAN ADRIÀ'S ELBULLI

Granted unprecedented access to the inner workings of perhaps the world’s most renowned restaurant, Time magazine Spain correspondent Abend follows 35 apprentices through the rigors of kitchen life and culinary invention under the tutelage of the “most famous chef in the world.”

Few restaurants are more revered than elBulli in Catalonia, Spain, a five-time winner of Restaurant magazine’s Best Restaurant in the World. Its owner-chef, Ferran Adrià, who has three Michelin stars, is universally recognized as the most influential pioneer of the avant-garde cuisine movement sometimes known as “molecular gastronomy,” a seriously playful style of cooking emphasizing textural, visual, olfactory and gustatory wit and deconstruction. It was at elBulli that Adrià and his chefs Eduard Xatruch and Oriol Castro invented those startling savory foams, liquid-nitrogen sorbets and spherified sauces that “permi[t] the diner to eat liquids, not drink them.” Getting a table at elBulli is the gourmet equivalent of winning the lottery, and the cooks who come to work—as unpaid apprentices—in its kitchens start out thinking themselves just as lucky. Ostensibly, these apprentices—the stagiaires—are the story’s focus. We learn about their lives, career aspirations and frustrations with the surprisingly tedious work required. Unfortunately, few of the stagiaires ever come to life enough for the reader to care, and the narrative occasionally wanders. No wonder, perhaps: Like the fresh apprentices, Abend seems too awestruck by Adrià’s genius to do more than offer praise. In a typical formulation, she claims, for example, that his work “represents the greatest rupture ever in the history of cuisine.” Nonetheless, Adrià isn’t the real hero—it’s the food. The author provides countless descriptions of an undeniably dazzling creative process and of foods that, even on paper, have the power to delight and amuse.

A slow-motion gastronomical feast and a rare chance for gourmet enthusiasts to witness the creative process behind some of the world’s most innovative cuisine.

Pub Date: March 22, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4391-7555-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2011

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Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

SEVERAL SHORT SENTENCES ABOUT WRITING

New York Times columnist and editorial board member delivers a slim book for aspiring writers, offering saws and sense, wisdom and waggery, biases and biting sarcasm.

Klinkenborg (Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile, 2006), who’s taught for decades, endeavors to keep things simple in his prose, and he urges other writers to do the same. (Note: He despises abuses of the word as, as he continually reminds readers.) In the early sections, the author ignores traditional paragraphing so that the text resembles a long free-verse poem. He urges readers to use short, clear sentences and to make sure each one is healthy before moving on; notes that it’s acceptable to start sentences with and and but; sees benefits in diagramming sentences; stresses that all writing is revision; periodically blasts the formulaic writing that many (most?) students learn in school; argues that knowing where you’re headed before you begin might be good for a vacation, but not for a piece of writing; and believes that writers must trust readers more, and trust themselves. Most of Klinkenborg’s advice is neither radical nor especially profound (“Turn to the poets. / Learn from them”), and the text suffers from a corrosive fallacy: that if his strategies work for him they will work for all. The final fifth of the text includes some passages from writers he admires (McPhee, Oates, Cheever) and some of his students’ awkward sentences, which he treats analytically but sometimes with a surprising sarcasm that veers near meanness. He includes examples of students’ dangling modifiers, malapropisms, errors of pronoun agreement, wordiness and other mistakes.

Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-26634-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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