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8.24.2008

The Sharper Your Knife The Less You Cry... A Review and A Give Away!

A few weeks back I received a request to review a book that was about to be published in the paperback version from Penguin Books. The Sharper Your Knife The Less You Cry ...Love , Laughter and Tears in Paris at the Worlds Most Famous Cooking School by Kathleen Flinn is in one word Outstanding!. I couldn't put this book down over the weekend because it hit home on so many levels. A short synopsis is of a American woman in her late thirties seemingly has it all. A high level job in London, and a wonderful love.Like most of us have or are about to go through, the realities of corporate life hit and she is layed off. Fine , she wasn't happy anyway. All her life she dreamed of studying at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, in part influenced by a relatives dream. But life gets in the way and dreams are put on hold. Do I know that story! I too got to study briefly in France but family duty and responsibility called me back home.Kathleen's love encourages her to use this time and follow her dream. He even decides to join her and what follows is a comical, loving, challenging time filled with all the highs and lows that go with studying in pressure cooker like Le Cordon Bleu, competitiveness, struggles with the French culture and language, being an American abroad in these perilous times, etc. The title comes from a line uttered in a lecture by a chef. As he explains how to chop a onion he advises on the use of sharp knives and cuts so the fumes aren't released that make you cry.But there is so much more to that sentence! The various chef instructors all have strong personalities and taskmasters that bring out the best and sometimes worst in the students. Kathleen closes each chapter with recipes from her studies, her family, her fellow students, Le Cordon Bleu, and her final exam. She even has a section at the end advising on menu ideas for a book club to discuss the book.
Kathleen Flinn reminds us that of the Ernest Hemingway quote that says "If your lucky enough to live in Paris when you're young, then wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast." I loved this book because it brought back so many memories of my years in art school in Paris. I could totally relate to the tears, the neighborhoods, the characters, the house guests galore( which happens when you live in a great city),the whole American abroad experience. The author is motivated by Julia Child, who 'started late' and a obituary of a woman. What do you want your obituary to say? Are you happy, and is really to late to do what you love? What holds you back, will you die with regrets?And most important, are you surrounded by people who truly love and support you in your dreams, because that is essential to succeed. This author is writer by profession who also loves cuisine. Young old, mid career or just starting out, this book is for everyone.
The people at PENGUIN were kind enough to give me an extra copy.Just comment on what your dream is or what you would do if life threw you a curve ball and had the chance to do what you loved? I will leave the comments open until Friday August 29. and pick a winner randomly. Good Luck!

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54 comments:

Ivy said...

Sounds like a wonderful book and maybe a lot of Foodies have similar unfulfilled dreams but I suppose we all will relate one way or the other. Although I loved cooking since I was in high school it never crossed my mind to become a chef. However, I have often dream how wonderful it would be if I did a culinary course, even at my age.

Megan said...

I have a friend who's going to the Culinary Institute in NYC. He's eating like a king!If I had it to do all aver again, I would do something along those lines. I dont want to be a chef, But culinary school in NYC would be a dream come true.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

A great sounding book! Surely a wonderful read!

Cheers,

Rosa

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

My dream would be to travel around the world, eating everything in sight! :) Kinda like a woman version of Anthony Bourdain! :)

This does sound like a great book! I always love re-inventing my life as much as possible!

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

My dream would be to join the Peace Corps. Hokey, maybe, but true...

Other big dream items:

Hike New Zealand
Learn cooking in France and Italy
Help Americans to eat local, unprocessed foods and return to nightly dinners.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

Oops! And I left you a little something at the blog today... ;-)

Nikki Miller-Ka said...

I hope my curveball isn't too far off in the future. I am trying to follow my dream now: writing, cooking, and blogging...but getting paid handsomely for my efforts. Right now, I get paid nothing. I'm doing the best that I can right now, I'm just hoping someone finds me, takes me under their wing, and actualizes my earning potential.

Kathleen Finn has a food blog like us http://kathleenfinn.blogspot.com

She's funny, sweet, introspective, and always full of good things.

Mary said...

That sounds like a really great book. It really interests me because it seems to parallel my life sort of. I was a succesfull commodities trader until suddenly circumstances changed and I am now living in the country with a husband. BIG curveball. So I've done a lot of thinking about what my dream would be.

It turns out I have a very simple dream. I'd like to live on some acreage, have a family, grow our own food and raise chickens. I'm getting there.

My non-curveball dream is to visit every state in the country. And I only have 5 left to go on that one.

great question btw.

Mochachocolata Rita said...

i'll pursue something creative...
and spend some time to learn the technical aspects

Proud Italian Cook said...

You did a great review on the book, makes me want to read it for sure. I love the story line!

The Caked Crusader said...

SOunds like a great book!
My dreams have varied between novellist, tea room proprietess and cake academic!

Emiline said...

Good review!

My dream is to go to culinary school.

Dee said...

I've been dying to read this. With a five year old and bills, my dream life (a B&B in Bali - at present) will have to wait until I'm fifty. Better late than never, I suppose.

Patsyk said...

I've heard so much about this book, and would LOVE to win a copy of it!

If life through me a curve ball, and I had the chance to make a real change... my dream would be to go to culinary school. I get all the course catalogs already, and just daydream about one day getting into at least some of their non-credit courses to whet my appetite. I found my dream a bit later in life than I had hoped to... but, better late than never, right? Gotta wait for my boys to grow up a bit more before I can really go after it though.

lovesweetlove said...

Sounds like a great book! I too would love to go to cooking school somewhere. It has always been a dream of mine, but I live too far from cooking schools.

Darius T. Williams said...

I doubt I'd win - but I'll answer the question anyway.

My answer is simpe. I'd cook. It's amazing that with all of the racism, prejudice, sexism, feminism, and any other ism we see these days that there's one common thread that connects us all - food. I've cooked for plenty of people in the past and just for a meal, a mere 20 minutes, there's harmony and unity amongst people. Isn't that amazing? Food does that. Food connects us all as people at the lowest common denominator. Me? I'd love to be the catalyst that brings about just a small change, one everyday meal at a time.

-DTW
www.everydaycookin.blogspot.com

Jennywenny said...

I would also love to cook for people. I'd love to create delicious desserts that made people happy, and beautiful cakes.

Lori Lynn said...

Thank you so much for this excellent book review. After I click on "publish your comment" I am off to amazon.com to buy the book right now.

Judy@nofearentertaining said...

What a great sounding book Courtney. Even if I don't win it I think I will have to buy it!

I think if I could do anything I would want to travel, eat and attend small foreign cooking schools in the countries I was visiting! But alas my life is really everything I have dreamed it would be! How sappy huh???

Beth said...

I also love Paris! This sounds like a really fun read. I am already somewhat living my dream. I went back to school and made the career change into pastry. If money was not an issue, my dream would be to work for free in various pastry shops in Europe, picking up new techniques and eating new things. How much fun would that be?

Dagmar - A Cat in the Kitchen said...

It sounds like a wonderful book. Great review. I can't wait for my own copy from Penguin (but it probably got stuck in customs as usual....).

Gabi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gabi said...

"what your dream is or what you would do if life threw you a curve ball and had the chance to do what you loved? "

Why- the answer to that question is simple- everything and more! To live with gusto- exploring everywhere and everything that interests me is the dream I want to live. I aim to drain the very marrow from the bones of life. When I met Rick it was from a statement I made: "I love life - do you?" I adore all that is good and beautiful in the world- it's GRAND!

I love your review- I definitely must read and I agree about the phrase "the sharper your knife- the less you cry" being true on a multitude of levels!
Thanks for sharing...
xox

Natashya said...

Life throws me a curveball and I can do what I like...
I would like a small farm with goats and sheep and learn to make artisan cheese and cook hearth loaves in an outdoor brick oven.
Grow veggies and fruits. And, as long as we are dreaming - I might as well have a helper and training in Italy!
The puppies are into this dream, they are already looking forward to chasing the goats around and eating the breadcrumbs.

chou said...

What fun! I'm glad you had the chance to review this book.

Well, life did throw us a curveball (at least RE dear hubby and his plans) and we're still trying to figure out what to do with it. The main thing is that we're seeing it as opportunity instead of obstruction, and that for some crazy reason his curveball is letting me live my dream. What a great man. Now when will you be in NYC next? I can't wait to catch up!

Gigi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gigi said...

Sounds like a great book!

Hmm, my curve ball led me to California where I knew no one except my boyfriend. And out of loneliness I went to school (college) to meet people. Not only have I met great people but I'm on my way to law school and a great future (crossing my fingers). Life is amazing!

Jeanne said...

It sounds like a wonderful book and your review really speaks to me re. things going on in my life at the moment...

Although I'm held back by fear of failure and financial constraints, I want to live by the ocean and write, write, write. Fiction, non-fiction, poetry, diaries, recipes, blogs, letters... Just write.

Deborah said...

I've heard such good things about this book!! I've actually always wanted to go to culinary school, but only when and if I had the money to do it just for fun and learning. I don't think I'd enjoy working in food, but I'd love to go just for the education. So I guess that would be my dream!

Rebecca said...

i really enjoyed this book, too and had the opportunity to hear the writer give a reading. much recommended!

katskitchen said...

My dream would be to co-own a bakery. Not on my own...but with someone. I love to bake!

maybelle's mom said...

Sounds fascinating. My dream would be to be a sculptor, valued for my creative mind, or a travel writer, free travel. Its sort of a toss up.

Bellini Valli said...

Dreams can come true. I started on my dream when I visited a cooking school/vacation on the island of Kea in Greece. There are so many wonderful cooking vacations in so many diverse countries it would be my dream to visit most of them and then wtite a guide book for others to enjoy.

giz said...

What a great review Courtney. Well written, engaging and entices the reader to really want to read the book. You've done it great justice.

Nina Timm said...

I have this Shirley Valentine dream Do you remember the movie???? I would love to live on an Greek Island...In dreams luckily, you do not have to earn an income or find a good school for the children, or......
On a more serious note....I am kinda living my dream. I have a wonderful and supportive husband and he makes it possible for me enjoy my hobby, passion.

Luca and Sabrina said...

Hi Glamah, here we are!
This sounds like a wonderful book and we've been dying to look for it! Your review is fantastic!
Kisses by Sabrina&Luca

James said...

Sounds like a great book ...

What would I do if life threw me a curve ball? It did. I moved from Seattle, Washington, USA to Tacloban, Leyte, Philippines. What am I doing about it? Learning to cook all over again using local ingredients and making many things from scratch now that I took for granted in the US.

A dream? To get paid to experiment in the kitchen and write about it.

Rosie said...

This really does sound a great book to read coco!

Rosie x

kittie said...

Giving it all up to do a foodie travel trip. Sounds like heaven... :)

Half Baked said...

Sounds like a wonderful book! Your review is great.
my dream would probably be go to pasrty school. Maybe open a cupcakery.

Christina said...

Excellent review.

If I had the opportunity to do whatever I'd want, I'd be a traveling food journalist, except that I'd live in different countries for a few months and write about the experience before going somewhere else.

Kate / Kajal said...

the title is quite captivating , so so is your review, if i see it in a bookstore near me, i'll surly pick it up.

Cakespy said...

Oooh good one! I already have the book so don't enter me (let someone else enjoy the prize!) but I still wanted to play. If I can dream for a moment, I'd say that I wish I could be doing what I am now...but in Paris!!! It's always been my dream to live there!

Cynthia said...

Just this evening I was telling Ben how blessed and fortunate I am to have a day job that pays my bills but allows me the freedom to pursue my passion as a foodie, particularly writing and photography. I mean the passion is just that at this stage, sure I make some money from it but not enough that I can quit my teaching postition at the college but if for some reason I didn't have that job, I throw myself further into my passion and harness all my skills teacher and give private cooking lessons.

We Are Never Full said...

i got this same book sent to me from Penguin... thanks for the synopsis b/c I won't get a chance to read it for a long time. but i had to answer this question - I think i'd prob. hope to have enough $$ to open up a small (small!) restaurant and only open it 3 or 4 nights a week and spend the other days/nights doing what I love - traveling and eating!!

Heather said...

Amy has the same as mine - but I'm still young enough to open that supper club. ;)

zlamushka said...

Sounds like a great book. I love the title and how she choses onion as methaphor for all the layers of herself yet-to-be-peeled...
Books that bring out memories of one´s own experience are truly the best.
You wrote a very nice review - a very tempting one, Good Job. Penguin(s) should be flooding you with more.

Dhanggit said...

this book sounds fantastic glamah!! thanks for being so generous :-) anyways i have a lot of dream but at this point in my life one great dream i would really really love to do is to open a scholarship foundation and a small orphanage for street children of manila :-)

angie said...

Hello, sounds like amazing reading for any foodies out there, including myself. I NEED to have it! As for dreams coming true, I posted one entry about my own personal experience. I feel very lucky because I am finally fulfilling the dream to enter the amazing world of culinary arts, after a somewhat completely different job experience. I am in heaven! The link to that entry:
http://tarallucci.blogspot.com/2008/05/dreams-can-come-true-i-sogni-possono.html
It is written in Italian but I can translate it for you. Just let me know!
email: taralluccie@gmail.com

Holly Wood said...

I've been foodie blog surfing and I stumbled into yours... I like it a lot!

My dream would be to open a bed and breakfast... with a scrapbook room! I doubt it will ever happen, but it's so fun to dream!

Ivan de Naples AKA Ivan Seligman said...

My dream would be to continue and expand on my passions, cooking and blogging about food, travelling the world and getting paid for my travel and scuba articles and photos, and volunteering abroad, assisting with simple healthcare.

Life can be a feast!

Ivan

jasmine said...

What a great-sounding book!

If the stars aligned, and money were no object, I'd travel the world, photographing interesting corners, painting breathtaking vistas, trying new foods, meeting fabulous people and writing about it along the way.

j

HoneyB said...

I made butterscotch filling also...quite by accident...but it was delish! Hope your sugar daddy gets to enjoy some eclairs you make soon!

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

This book as been on my list of ones to read. The next time someone is coming here from the states I'll ask them if they can bring me a copy.

That school is no joke. I remember seeing a bio on Giada de Laurentiis when she talked about her experience there.

So looking forward to reading it.