Erica Bauermeister is the co-author of 500 Great Books by Women: A Reader's Guide and Let's Hear It For the Girls: 375 Great Books for Readers 2-14, and has taught literature and creative writing at the University of Washington.
From an interview about her debut novel at her publisher's website:
Q. What led you to write [The School of Essential Ingredients]?Read the compete Q & A.
In 1999, my family had just returned to Seattle after spending two years in northern Italy. I found that I missed the food and being around people who celebrated even the most simple meals. So, I took a cooking class. The first night, we killed crabs. I’m the kind of person who takes spiders outside when I find them in my house and it was a deeply unsettling experience. I had an image of a young mother, Claire, and I began wondering what effect it might have on her to kill something. In the end, her story wasn’t at all what I expected. And then I started thinking about all the different characters you could have in a class, and started wondering which foods would affect each one – revive a memory, create an epiphany, change the direction of a life – and that’s where the book came from.
Q. How are food and cooking connected to the way we live our whole lives, not just the time we spend in the kitchen or at the table?
The act of cooking provides us with an opportunity to slow down, to focus on our senses rather than the speed of our world. I think we all want that, miss that, in our everyday lives. The people I know who pay attention to those things simply seem to be happier and more fulfilled, in the kitchen and out of it.
My children were incredibly lucky, in that they were 7 and 10 when we moved to Italy and they learned that lesson early. They are both dedicated foodies and truly creative cooks. My son just went to college and he inherited my college blender. The funny thing is, he took it because he wanted to be able to make pesto – a far cry from the margaritas and protein shakes it made in the early 1980s.
Visit Erica Bauermeister's website.
The Page 69 Test: The School of Essential Ingredients.