Book Review: The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry

I love a good adventure story. I love putting myself into the shoes of the protagonist - filleting fish, breaking sauces and struggling with the local lingo...

What kind of adventure story is this you ask?

It a tale of a American gal in London who, finding herself without a viable means of support, runs off to Paris to attend the Cordon Blue cooking school. There is love, intrigue, passion, pain, suffering, great food and best of all - its a true story .

Yup - It's for real! Kathleen Harris takes the reader along for the ride as her story unfolds in The Sharper Your Knife the Less You Cry: Love, Laughter, and Tears in Paris at the World’s Most Famous Cooking School (Penguin Books).

After my last book review experience, I was a little reluctant to plunge into another book - even if this was a autobiography, one of my favorite things in the whole world. So consequently, the paperback sat on my nightstand for about two months before I worked up the nerve to dive in.

I am really sorry I waited that long. Kathleen has a nice clean writing style. Her story moves along without getting bogged down in self-pity or false modesty. I love the way she talks about her fellow students, her professors and the shopkeepers she meets during her tenure in Paris. My envy was aroused by her descriptions shopping for food in Paris - the wine shop near on of her apartments where the owner chats with her and makes recommendations to go with her dinners, the bakeries where she picked up fresh bread every day and the other small shops that clustered along a street close to her house.

However, her description of the Parisian branch of the Cordon Blue made me quake in my shoes. The description of her struggles with puff pastry was enough to give me a case of the nerves. I think if you plan on attending culinary school, you should read this book first. True - you may not have to master French to attend the school of your choice - however, the books gives you a very good look at the types of curriculum that you would be following. Personally, I know that I would crap out during the sauces - my Hollandaise usually breaks.

And just in case you like interactive storytelling, Kathleen also includes recipes, so you can eat along with the story. I personally would like to try the rabbit in mustard sauce since I recently located a source for fresh rabbit.

So my recommendation is to grab a copy of The Sharper Your Knife the Less You Cry. It will make a good read while you are curled up on the couch this winter drinking you hot tea and dreaming of your own personal rebirth.


Anonymous said...

I read that book over the summer and enjoyed it. Have you read 'alone in the kitchen with an eggplant'? That was my favorite recent food-related read.

Rosie said...

No - though the thought of being alone in any room with an eggplant sounds intriguing. I will have to put in on top of the 6 foot tall pile of books next to my bed.

Anonymous said...

I know that feeling. The nice thing about it, is that because it is all separate short stories, you can pick it up/ leave it for later and not worry about forgetting who the characters are or what the hell is going on. You don't have to commit to it like a novel ;-) Also by getting an insight into other people's food idiosyncracies it makes you feel less weird about your secret solitary food habits!

Rosie said...

I should feel less weird about loving to eat teaspoons of molasses when no one is looking? Sign me up!

Anonymous said...

That's not weird at all, in my opinion. I do that too! and I justify it because Molasses is high in Iron. One tablespoon is 15% of the RDA -- forget liver and spinach. Molasses is delicious medicine :-)