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The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry

Marie Louise's picture

I just finished reading this today. A fun read for a rainy afternoon.

http://kathleenflinn.com/sharper.html

A_Good_Cook's picture

(post #62906, reply #1 of 13)

I just finished reading it too - and loved it. I got it for Christmas from my hubby who decided that the cost of the book was cheaper than sending me to Cordon Bleu.


I recommend this for anyone who likes cooking, and especially for francophiles like me. I learned a lot, and the behind the scenes look at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris is fascinating. It also contains some great recipes (mostly classic French).


I copied this description from Amazon:


Book Description
A delightful true story of food, Paris, and the fulfillment of a lifelong dream


In 2003, Kathleen Flinn, a thirty-six-year-old American living and working in London, returned from vacation to find that her corporate job had been eliminated. Ignoring her mother’s advice that she get another job immediately or “never get hired anywhere ever again,” Flinn instead cleared out her savings and moved to Paris to pursue a dream—a diploma from the famed Le Cordon Bleu cooking school. The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry is the touching and remarkably funny account of Flinn’s transformation as she moves through the school’s intense program and falls deeply in love along the way. Flinn interweaves more than two dozen recipes with a unique look inside Le Cordon Bleu amid battles with demanding chefs, competitive classmates, and her “wretchedly inadequate” French. Flinn offers a vibrant portrait of Paris, one in which the sights and sounds of the city’s street markets and purveyors come alive in rich detail. The ultimate wish fulfillment book, her story is a true testament to pursuing a dream. Fans of Julie & Julia, Almost French, and Eat, Pray, Love will be amused, inspired, and richly rewarded by this seductive tale of romance, Paris, and French food.

Lee's picture

(post #62906, reply #2 of 13)

I went to an author's luncheon in mid-December where she spoke and signed books.  She was delightful.  I bought the book, but haven't had time to get to it.  One of my DDs gave me The Tenth Muse and Backstage With Julia for Christmas, and I'm looking forward to reading those, too. 

Risottogirl's picture

(post #62906, reply #3 of 13)

I read The Tenth Muse on my recent flight to Chicago and Backstage with Julia on the return flight to Boston - enjoyed both!


Sort of interesting how Judith Jones just glosses right over, without a mention at all of the fact that she met and moved in with her husband while he was still married to someone else. It is implied in a an obvious way, but not stated. Not that I am passing judgement, it was just odd the way it is portrayed. Very odd.



Water is a great ingredient to cook with, it has such a neutral flavor - Bobby Flay


Edited 1/3/2008 9:43 pm ET by Risottogirl

Water is a great ingredient to cook with, it has such a neutral flavor - Bobby Flay

Lee's picture

(post #62906, reply #4 of 13)

I finished the book tonight and enjoyed it.  I found that little skip over the facts interesting, too.  I reread that section to be sure I was comprehending what was between the lines.  She glosses over quite a bit, such as the death of her beloved Evan (and I don't for a moment doubt that he was the love of her life).  She mentions it almost in passing.  She came across to me as an intensely private person who wouldn't  dream of writing a book even remotely akin to a tell-all.  She succeeded. 


Did you catch the undercurrent in the section about Marcella?  Along with the obvious difficulty they had in working together, I got the distinct feeling she is implying that Victor did the actual writing for Marcella's cookbooks.  Interesting. 


I was fascinated with her commentary about the American attitude toward food and cooking (fast and simple) in the 1950s before Julia came along.  She talks about the food industry's campaign to get the message across that women didn't have time to cook and that it was beneath their dignity to cook when all they had to do was reach for canned goods, frozen foods and "ready-made substitutes."  It struck me that Julia changed that perception, yet here we are, almost 50 years later, with little Miss Sandra Lee who is preaching that same old mantra of why bother to make it from scratch when you can open cans and boxes.  Plus ca change, plus ce la meme chose.     

Risottogirl's picture

(post #62906, reply #8 of 13)

I keep forgetting to respond to your comment about the Marcella part - that was interesting and I have heard that Victor did most of the actual "pen to paper" writing so I was not surprised.


I did not find Judith Jones to be someone I would want to know or be friends with, really. She did not seem like a particulary warm or caring person. Perhaps that was just the appearances of her upbringing.


Water is a great ingredient to cook with, it has such a neutral flavor - Bobby Flay

Water is a great ingredient to cook with, it has such a neutral flavor - Bobby Flay

pamilyn's picture

(post #62906, reply #9 of 13)

I am still reading the Tenth Muse. I am finding it a bit odd. I don't think it is written very well. Am I alone in this thought or am I just not enjoying it? She seems kind of cold. Pamilyn

The purpose of Art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls

The purpose of Art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls

Canuck's picture

(post #62906, reply #10 of 13)

I found the same thing. She just didn't appeal to me.


If you're looking for a hotter book, LOL, read Insatiable by Gael Greene. She's (was?) the restaurant critic for New York magazine. OMG, half the book is about the sex she's had. She points out that she'd had sex with both the people on the front of Time magazine one week (Burt Reynolds and Clint Eastwood). Plus just about everyone else alive in the 70s, including a porn star and half the French food establishment. Most of whom were had while she was married.


I haven't finished the book but I'm realizing that coming of age in the 80s after AIDS, as I did, was a very different kettle of fish. It's a funny read.

Risottogirl's picture

(post #62906, reply #12 of 13)

I ano prude, but I couldn't even finish Gael Greene's book (and that is rare), it was so awful. I think I posted about it. I couldn't be less interested in her sexual escapades. It was poorly written (more so than The Tenth Muse, IMHO) and just so "name droppy". Ugh. I left on a plane and read the inflight mag instead.

Water is a great ingredient to cook with, it has such a neutral flavor - Bobby Flay

Water is a great ingredient to cook with, it has such a neutral flavor - Bobby Flay

Canuck's picture

(post #62906, reply #13 of 13)

Funny, I'm no prude either but I am finding it an awful lot of sex for a food book LOL.

Risottogirl's picture

(post #62906, reply #11 of 13)

I agree that shee seems cold and that she totally skims over the fact that her husband was married to someone else when they took up together (took up together? I sound like my grandmother LOL)


I liked it okay though.


Water is a great ingredient to cook with, it has such a neutral flavor - Bobby Flay

Water is a great ingredient to cook with, it has such a neutral flavor - Bobby Flay

Adele's picture

(post #62906, reply #5 of 13)

I'm reading Backstage with Julia right now. 


Just finished The Wedding Officer and hurried to order his previous book, The Food of Love.  I cried as the last page came and went, such a beautiful story.  Reminded me of Chocolat


I now have a burning desire to go to Naples and eat vegetables grown in black volcanic earth, with a buffalo shuffling in the field after being milked for mozzarella that inspired paragraphs.   (The author is Anthony Capella.) 


But, but, it's SUPPOSED to taste like that!

But, but, it's SUPPOSED to taste like that!

Marcia's picture

(post #62906, reply #6 of 13)

I read The Tenth Muse almost as soon as it was published and keep forgetting to post about it.


You are right that things are glossed over, and I found it interesting that she didn't like the name Bill Jones (too prosaic, evidently), and urged him to use Evan which was his middle name.


The book was a very quick read and is a good look at American publishing in better days, IMO.

Marie Louise's picture

(post #62906, reply #7 of 13)

I read the Tenth Muse and thought the same as you. So much was left unsaid.