The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister

Dear Fellow Reader,

While I write to you today, there is a rainstorm outside. Thunder and lightning – the whole Midwest rainstorm show. I am delighted because it has been dry where I live and we need the rain. There is one member of the family who doesn’t agree that we EVER need thunder and lightning. Sadie, the dog who is afraid (of everything) is under the desk at my feet hiding from the day. So while she tries to burrow through the floor, I will tell you about a new book I read.

Each morning, I receive an email from BookBub with the eBook deals of the day. (You can subscribe at  I really try not to buy any books but sometimes there is one that captures my eye and for $1.99, I’ll buy it. That is what happened with this book. It was on the sale list and it sounded intriguing. And of course, I was supposed to be reading my book club book. Sometimes, that rebel in me that just can’t settle in to read what I am supposed to read. (Just kidding, there is no rebel in me.)

The School of Essential Ingredients was a pleasure to find. It is a story about a group of 8 people who meet in a cooking class at Lillian’s restaurant. The class is held once a month on Monday nights. The stories about the 8 students and Lillian are woven through the classes. We learn first about Lillian and her involvement with food and how she learned how to use food to get her mother’s attention and the woman who helped her learn about food and cooking. The students in the class each have a different reason for being in the class. There is the older married couple, the lawyer coping with loss, the young girl trying to find her way, the older woman whose memory isn’t quite what it should be, an Italian kitchen designer with a design problem, a new mother, and the software engineer who tends to look at things in black and white.

This book tells the story of these people and how they came to be in the class. Through the writing, you feel that you get to know them and will miss them when the story is over. There is not some big pivotal moment – it is a nice story. The book reminds me of a Maeve Binchy book. I don’t know if Maeve Binchy is still in as much favor as she once was but there was a time when I couldn’t wait for her next book. (I even saw her in person once. I could have been an author groupie…)

I sometimes feel that if I say, “it is a nice story” that that will undersell the book. The truth is that while we can appreciate books that share a lesson or review something about the world, it is great to just read a nice story and take a break from current events or history. That is what I am offering to you to read. A nice story to entertain you.

There is a second book in the series, The Lost Art of Mixing. I just got it from the library yesterday, so I can’t comment on it yet. But so far, so good.

Be good to yourself.

Thanks for reading!

About Carol Early Cooney

I love to read. I love to share my thoughts on books and hope to hear what you think also. Looking to see what books I read beyond those I write about? Check out my Goodreads!
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