31 Days of Great Nonfiction Reads {Day 9} Heat

Heat: An Amateur's Adventures ... by Bill Buford. Day 9 of 31 Days of Great Nonfiction Books / Great Nonfiction Reads by The Deliberate ReaderHeat: An Amateur’s Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in TuscanyHeat: An Amateur's Adventures ... by Bill Buford. Day 9 of 31 Days of Great Nonfiction Books / Great Nonfiction Reads by The Deliberate Reader by Bill Buford

I’m a sucker for food-related memoirs, so I was really excited to read Heat. Behind the scenes at Mario Batali’s famous restaurant Babbo?? Awesome!

The book itself? Mostly awesome. I loved the parts where he’s in Batali’s kitchen. I liked the parts where he’s in Italy. Put it together and overall I really liked the book.

Years ago I worked in an upscale restaurant, and his depiction of the kitchen rang completely true. His descriptions of the chefs and line cooks and dishwashers and everyone involved in the restaurant brought back lots of memories – some good, some not-so-good, and some hilarious.

If you don’t have any experience with a professional kitchen or kitchen staff, let me just warn you: it can be crude. And profane. The book isn’t for you if off-color remarks will bother you.

Publisher’s Description:
A highly acclaimed writer and editor, Bill Buford left his job at The New Yorker for a most unlikely destination: the kitchen at Babbo, the revolutionary Italian restaurant created and ruled by superstar chef Mario Batali. Finally realizing a long-held desire to learn first-hand the experience of restaurant cooking, Buford soon finds himself drowning in improperly cubed carrots and scalding pasta water on his quest to learn the tricks of the trade. His love of Italian food then propels him on journeys further afield: to Italy, to discover the secrets of pasta-making and, finally, how to properly slaughter a pig. Throughout, Buford stunningly details the complex aspects of Italian cooking and its long history, creating an engrossing and visceral narrative stuffed with insight and humor.

31 Days of Great Nonfiction Reads
If you liked Heat, you might also like Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary UnderbellyKitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, but I will warn you that there is a lot of profanity in that book. It’s a book that I liked, but am hesitant to recommend without a lot of caveats.

To see all the books featured in 31 Days of Great Nonfiction Reads, go to the series page.

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  1. I’m making a list of all the interesting books you’re introducing me to this month. This one is going to the top of the list. First, I love Mario, I don’t cook his foods, but love watching him. Anything about his interests me, then you mention it’s a little crude in places. To me, that sounds like you’re saying, the book is true and not sugar coated. I like that idea. Thanks for the introduction and joining up with 31 Days. Otherwise I might not have found you.

    • I love Mario too, which is what caught my attention with this book.

      I mention that it can be crude at times because I know that someone like my mom would not like it, and would appreciate the heads-up. There is definitely no sugar-coating going on.

      Hope you like it!

  2. Oh, I loved heat! And felt the same way about Kitchen Confidential: so much fascinating content, so many belly laughs, and soooo much to cringe at!

    Have you ever read Michael Ruhlman’s kitchen trilogy? Starts with The Making of a Chef, where he enrolls (well, kinda–they let him in as a journalist) at the Culinary Institute of America to find out what it’s all about. So interesting.

    I’d love to hear about your time in the high-end restaurant sometime. (Maybe sometime soon??)

    • Ruhlman’s book might be making an appearance here soon. As in Friday. ๐Ÿ™‚ Love those books.

      Did you include Bourdain’s book in your books you’re afraid to recommend post? Because I was totally thinking of that post when I was writing about it. I love it, but am so scared to recommend it if I don’t know who it is who will be reading it. ๐Ÿ™‚

      And that sounds like all the more reason we need to connect at Influence. Two days!!

  3. This sounds good. I’m fascinated by the restaurant life.

    I’m actually a fan of Anthony Bourdain. I used to watch his show, No Reservations before we quit cable. His foul mouth is a little hard to take at first. Beyond that, his wit and sarcasm strike some kind of chord with me that draw me in. I’ve not read any of his books, but I’ve run across them more than once and wondered how I’d like Kitchen Confidential.

    • I found his show harder to take than the book; reading it doesn’t have the same impact on me as hearing it apparently. But he’s still got the same sarcastic take on things as in the show. More comments on sex in the book than I remember seeing on the show (although I only saw a handful of episodes). The library should have it if it’s something you’re interested in enough to want to look at it. You’ll quickly know if it’s your thing or not. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      And if you can handle watching No Reservations I have no qualms about recommending Heat to you. It’s much tamer than Kitchen Confidential.

  4. Sounds fascinating. I think biographies/autobiogs are one of the most neglected genres. They’re just wonderful, but for some reason many of us have it stuck in our heads that they’re boring. Even the ones with the ugliest covers, though, can suck you right in. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Your reviews are awesome. I want to be you.

    • I love biographies/autobiographies/memoirs. All of them. As will become very obvious as this series continues. I thought about doing 31 Days of just those books, but decided to have a little more variety. ๐Ÿ™‚ It kind of kills me when people think they’re all boring. Yeah, of course some are boring, but you can say that about any genre.

      Thanks for the compliment on my reviews.


  1. […] I enjoyed. Some of the other books I’ve highlighted in this series I know had some (ahem, Heat), some I’m completely confident that they don’t (Eat That Frog), and some I suspect […]

  2. […] already discussed my love for food-related memoirs and cooking-school accounts, so I perhaps shouldn’t have included another book in that genre. […]

  3. […] Venice, and Florence, and Rome), in honor of Donna Leon’s books The Agony and the Ecstasy, Heat, and lots of other […]

  4. […] If you like the genre, there are so many wonderful food memoirs available, and many of them I’ve already reviewed: A Homemade Life, Bread & Wine, Garlic and Sapphires, The Sharper Your Knife the Less You Cry, and Heat. […]

  5. […] was a little bit disappointing. It suffers a bit in comparison with some of the other terrific food-related nonfiction I’ve […]

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