Dirt: Adventures in Lyon as a Chef in Training, Father, and Sleuth Looking for the Secret of French Cooking

Knopf. May 2020. 432p. ISBN 9780307271013. $28.95. COOKING
Once you’ve mastered Italian cuisine, what’s next? New Yorker writer Buford (Heat) recounts his time working for Mario Batali, and deciding to move—along with his wife and twin toddler sons—to Lyon, France. From a rocky start, which included missed flights and difficulty securing visas, Buford eventually found work in a local bakery, studied at L’Institut Bocuse, and navigated the hierarchy of the award-winning La Mére Brazier. But besides grueling days at the restaurant, Buford also spends time investigating the contentious history of French cuisine (could there be a connection with the Italian Medici daughters, who moved to France when they married?), and researching the seminal recipes of Brillat-Savarin. The author and his family remain in France for five years before returning to New York.
VERDICT An often funny and eye-opening behind-the-scenes look at haute cuisine, as well as life as an expat in France. Readers will be engrossed not only by Buford’s story, but that of his family as well.

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