If you’re interested in knowing how to braise short ribs, read “Heat” — full title “An Amateur’s Adventures as a Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-quoting Butcher in Tuscany.” Interested in knowing when the first Italian cookbook came to be? Or in taking an engrossing journey down an international culinary road (the focus — Italy and New York City), read “Heat.” If good writing is your thing, get Buford’s book and pull up a chair because you’re in for a riveting ride. Whatever you do don’t miss pages 72-74: Buford’s brilliant description of a kitchen accident. The former fiction editor of The New Yorker has written a book that is party biography, part culinary instruction, and part memoir.
In “Heat,” Buford focuses on the career and life of Mario Batali, who for a time was arguably New York’s hottest celebrity chef. The author also provides sound instruction concerning, for example, how to butcher a pig or how to pair sugo with the right kind of pasta. Buford will capture you as he doggedly pursues his culinary goals, taking you to Tuscany and other points south and north. His humor, his thoroughness, his insights, and his vigorous writing will more than satisfy all appetites.