Recommended Reads: Life lessons in ‘The School of Essential Ingredients’

The School of Essential Ingredients, by Erica Bauermeister

September means back to school. This year graduate to a new class. Go to The School of Essential Ingredients and enjoy learning in the company of author Erica Bauermeister’s heartwarming characters. Attendance is a treat as you learn lessons from the Monday night cooking classes; mostly you learn lessons of life and compassion. This artistic triumph will entice you to slow down your pace and feel life with all your senses.

The cooking class is held on Monday nights at a restaurant called Lillian’s. It’s an Arts and Crafts house with front rooms converted into a dining area. This is a very magical place run by a very special lady named Lillian. For seven years she’s taught weekly cooking classes on the night the restaurant is closed. The class is a refuge from the distractions that often prevent people in everyday life to take time to treasure their life and happiness. There are eight students who gather for this current series of classes — eight students plus the reader. The author’s writing is so vivid the reader is drawn right into the midst of the classes, and the characters’ stories.

Like peeling the layers of an onion, each character’s history is artistically revealed, the joys and the hurdles that brought them to their present day. What has shaped them into the person they are, and what is it that each of them is facing now? Can a cooking class of strangers shape a future? What are the essential ingredients to a recipe for the perfect meal, or to the perfect life? Is there such a thing? As Lillian says with a smile about the essential ingredients, “I might as well tell you, there isn’t a list and I’ve never had one. Nor do I hand out recipes. All I can say is that you will learn what you need to.”

Erica Bauermeister has an extraordinary gift for language and lyrical insights into human nature. The resulting novel is a magical gift. It‘s the first of her four novels. According to her website, in her own words she “wanted to write – books that took what many considered to be unimportant bits of life and gave them beauty, shone light upon their meaning.” Her dream has been beautifully shared

— By Wendy Kendall

Wendy Kendall is a writer, project manager, wedding officiant and volunteer at the Edmonds Library.


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