Foodie books are a real delight for me. I enjoy reading the stories behind the scenes, especially for places I will never go, like Le Cordon Bleu. I particularly enjoy books that teach me something as I am reading about someone’s adventures in the food world. The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry is one of those great books, offering a behind the scenes view of the world famous Le Cordon Bleu Cooking School in Paris. This story is the journey of a woman newly adrift in her 30s after losing her job, finding her passion and herself along the way as she enrolls in a school taught in a foreign language. Throughout the book are lessons from the cooking school along with recipes so the reader can learn as well.
Even though her grasp of French is tenuous at best, it gets better over the three semesters in 2004-5 as she struggles through the intense lessons. She learns about chickens and quiche, vegetables and sauces, knife work and more all while dealing with other students and her own self doubt. Her chef instructors are relentless, and everyone is a critic, even the homeless man who receives one of her dishes declares it needs more salt.
The book has quite a few recipes from the school including Boeuf Bourguignonne, Chicken Cordon Bleu, Chocolate Souffle, Cassoulet, Onion Soup Gratuneed with Cheese, Mushroom Crusted Steaks with Red Wine Sauce, and two dozen more. Want to try the Beef Bourguignone? Here is a link to the recipe – http://www.cordonbleu.edu/news/boeufbourguignon/en. There are more recipes from Le Cordon Bleu on their website too.
Written in an easy to read, conversational style, this story is humorous and real. Ms. Flinn takes us to Paris with all its richness and flavor. We get to follow her life during those years while she struggles with the lessons, finds love, and realizes her dreams. If you enjoy foodie books, you will like this one.