The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry--Kathleen Flinn
In a word, not to keep you in suspense, charming. A memoir cum travelogue cum cookbook, Ms. Flinn tells the story of leaving corporate America and pursuing her dream of a degree from one of the most prestigious cooking schools in the world.
Ms. Flinn tells her adventures while attending all three courses at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris--basic, intermediate, and superior. Along the way we learn about the Chefs, their moods, their modes, their recipes, their haunts. We also learn a bit about Paris, a good deal about the school, and a great deal about Ms. Flinn, who sounds like a wonderful person--one both interesting and entertaining to be with.
Living in Paris Ms. Flinn plays host to any number of visitors--from one young man who bursts into her apartment to find the bathroom and spend much of the rest of his stay with her recovering from food poisoning picked up in London, to the visitation of two extremely trying young women who allow Kathleen and her husband to foot the bill for much of their stay.
Along the way, Ms. Flinn cooks, cringes away from some of the darker moods of some of the chefs, gets married, worries over her newly-wed husband. She also tells us something of the history of the school, of cuisine, of Paris itself.
And it all reads like one long love story--for Ms. Flinn gets married in the middle of it, but obviously loves Paris as much as Hemingway, though in a very different way.
Ms. Flinn, despite her high-flying career and her success at Le Cordon Bleu comes off as genuine, interesting, fun. She offers to her readers this wonderfully considered piece of advice:
As in cooking, living requires that you taste, taste, taste as you go along--you can't wait until the dish of life is done. In my career, I always looked ahead to the place I wanted to go, the next rung on the ladder. It reminds me of "The Station" by Robert Hastings, a parable read at our wedding. The message is that while on a journey, we are sure the answer lies at the destination. But in reality, there is no station, no "place to arrive once and for all. The joy of life is in the trip, and the station is a dream that constantly outdistances us."