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The Saucier's Apprentice
By Bob Spitz
ISBN: 0393335380
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication date: May 4, 2009
Format: Paperback (Hardcover; Kindle)
List price: $15.95 
Type: Memoir; Cooking schools
Sample recipe: Tuscan Meat Sauce
Intended audience: novice advanced beginner good home cook gourmet professional
Apparent goal: stocking stuffer sampler comprehensive coffee-table Biblical stature
Competition: outclassed follower in the pack strong challenger likely champ
Variety: too little too much unusual nice mix just right
# of recipes: <50 <100 <200 <300 ≥300
Practical recipes: <20% <40% <60% <80% ≥80%
# of ingredients: ≤4 ≤7 ≤10 ≤12 >12
Ingredient hunt: 7-Eleven airfare required online pantry supermarket
Recipe complexity: too hard simple medium challenging professional
Instructions: inadequate verbose bare-bones full-figured educational
Time conscious: unconscious outright lies white lies realistic honorable
Cooking time: weekend project takes all day takes time ≥30 minutes <30 minutes
Added info: zip overwhelming scant balanced generous
Photos/drawings: none distracting decorative instructive glorious
Recipe results: ≤dorm food casual food family meals fancy food fit for royalty
Nutritional info: none overwhelming hit or miss adequate comprehensive
Format/Ease of Use
Layout: ugh cluttered fine considerate work of art
Legibility: unpleasant challenging tolerable clear brilliant
Production quality: cheesy iffy years of service gift quality stunning
Page numbers: non-existent hard-to-find spotty sufficient every page
Table of contents: AWOL frustrating passable useful excellent
Index quality: none tragic adequate good a treasure
Page flipping: upsetting tedious acceptable rare never
Writer: beginner food writer writing cook personality auteur
Cook: unknown self-taught chef teacher celebrity
Fulfills ambitions: falls short almost there satisfactory exceeds home run
Flavor delivered: sad inconsistent tasty delicious exceptional
Overall tone: sterile trying too hard straightforward best friend mom
Value: ouch! a little pricey worth splurging on the money a deal
Overall rating: skip it good very good excellent Ochef Top 100

Comments: Oh boy! Another needy, fifty-something, nearly adolescent male trying to find himself through food in Europe – this one through individual cooking lessons and cooking schools. If Bob Spitz can only master cooking, surely he will be able to get his life in order.

It doesn't exactly work that way. In the end, though, he comes to some reasonable conclusions about cooking and life, but there is a fair bit of moping before he gets there. The cooking lessons – especially the schools – turn out to be a very mixed bag, and who knew they would be populated with so many unpleasant American pupils?

There are a few actual flaws – he misquotes de Gaulle, for example, and provides a tabouli recipe with no cracked wheat. You will need to have some familiarity with food and cooking to follow the narrative. But it turns out to be an interesting ride from lesson to school, from France to Italy, and from lonely divorced dad to confident cook and – quite possibly – reasonably well-adjusted grown-up.


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