Heat by Bill Buford

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Heat by Bill Buford

Postby Bill Buitenhuys » Wed Jan 03, 2007 10:29 am

Has anyone read this book? I just started it the other day and it's pretty entertaining so far.

The books subtitle An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany sums it up pretty nicely. So far that I've read the author is telling stories about his apprenticeship for Batali at Babbo and about his visits with Marco Pierre White. His accounts of trial by fire (literally) at Babbo remind me of Plimpton's Paper Lion, although not as well written.
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Re: Heat by Bill Buford

Postby Mike Filigenzi » Wed Jan 03, 2007 10:31 am

Haven't picked up the book yet, but I've read several excerpts from it. Very entertaining.


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Re: Heat by Bill Buford

Postby Bob Ross » Wed Jan 03, 2007 11:15 am

I've been reading it on and off for three months, Bill. Parts are very entertaining, but it needed much better editing. Much of the book is almost stream of conciousness.

When you get that far, I would love to see your version of how he recommends that you make polenta. Baffling, really -- three or four pages, and still only have a glimmer of what the various steps should be.

For my money, Mike has the right idea: read excerpts -- it's a great book to dip into for five minutes before going to sleep. Not boring, exactly, but not compelling reading either. Just interesting enough so that I hope to finish sometime, say by June 2007.
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Re: Heat by Bill Buford

Postby Jenise » Thu Jan 04, 2007 2:27 am

Got it for Christmas, and can't wait to delve in. I hope I love it, and that the stream-of-consciousness Bob Ross remarks on causes my interests as a cook to trump my interests in perfect, concise story telling.
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Re: Heat by Bill Buford

Postby Bob Ross » Thu Jan 04, 2007 2:44 am

Please post as you go along, Jenise. I've loved his work in the past. And this book has some great passages.

Just one data point: Amazon has 93 reviews tonight -- average score -- four out of five stars. I rate it 3 1/2.

Regards, Bob
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Re: Heat by Bill Buford

Postby Bob Ross » Thu Jan 04, 2007 2:50 am

I did a bit of research after posting my ill tempered response to Jenise's gracious post. It warmed an OF's heart to find this note about another book on the NYTs site:

MORE ‘HEAT’: When Freudenberger published her first short story in The New Yorker, in 2001, her editor was Bill Buford, whose own book “Heat” is still selling — it’s No. 41 on the nonfiction extended list.

This summer, The Guardian of London got around to condensing Buford’s book in its “digested read” feature. Here’s how their excellent boiled-down version begins: “It takes a man with a large ego to accept one of my dinner invitations. Mario Batali, chef and co-owner of Babbo, Manhattan’s most famous Italian restaurant, is one of them. He came bearing his own quince-flavored grappa. I took out my white, dense slab of lardo. He glanced down at it, his huge masculine frame rocking in a testosterone-busting parenthesis, before producing his own. ‘My lardo is bigger than yours,’ he scoffed. At that moment I decided I was going to be Mario’s kitchen slave.”

Now you can skip Buford’s first 50 pages.

You’re welcome.
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Re: Heat by Bill Buford

Postby Robin Garr » Thu Jan 04, 2007 9:40 am

Bill Buitenhuys wrote:Has anyone read this book?


I reviewed it last year and gave it a favorable reading. I can see some of the points that Bob and others made, but I didn't mind its stream-of-consciousness nature. I think Buford is a fine writer and enjoy a lot of his stuff in <I>The New Yorker</i>.

Here's a link to the review, which I paired with a review of Joseph Carey's <I>Chef on Fire</I> mostly so I could have fun with the headline:

<b>Summer reading: Fire and Heat</b>
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Re: Heat by Bill Buford

Postby Bill Buitenhuys » Thu Jan 04, 2007 11:10 am

I'm still chugging away and I must say, I'm pretty captivated so far. Ya it's stream of consciousness but I like Kerouac, Ginsburg, and Bukowski too. :wink: Some passages have made me laugh right out loud and others, like his first night on the grill, have made me cringe.

Thanks for the link to your review, Robin. I remember reading the review on Chef's book but glossed over Heat.

I hope you like it as much as I have so far, Jenise.
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Re: Heat by Bill Buford

Postby ChefCarey » Thu Jan 04, 2007 1:08 pm

Bill Buitenhuys wrote:I'm still chugging away and I must say, I'm pretty captivated so far. Ya it's stream of consciousness but I like Kerouac, Ginsburg, and Bukowski too. :wink: Some passages have made me laugh right out loud and others, like his first night on the grill, have made me cringe.

Thanks for the link to your review, Robin. I remember reading the review on Chef's book but glossed over Heat.

I hope you like it as much as I have so far, Jenise.


There was a pretty good hack named Joyce who did a more than adequate job with the stream of consciousness stuff. Love it when it's well done.
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Re: Heat by Bill Buford

Postby Barb Freda » Thu Jan 04, 2007 5:41 pm

I LOVED the booked, Jenise...Wasn't bothered by the editing at all...I have no excuses, but it all just captivated me. I hope you love it, too.

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Re: Heat by Bill Buford

Postby Dale Williams » Sat Jan 06, 2007 12:30 pm

Both Betsy and I enjoyed it. There were parts that were redundant, and occasionally it did read like a collection of articles, but mostly quite interesting. One day I want to drag a pig carcass into a Manhattan co-op.
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