Remember that time I read The Kitchen Counter Cooking School and loved the SHIT out of it? And immediately went out and read this, even though I knew I’d love it less? I loved it less (I am a fucking psychic).
It is STILL a fun read. This whole review is probably going to be comparison-soup, but if I had read Knife first I would have liked it lots. K-Finn goes to FRANCE to study COOKING and there is food and descriptions of food (crispy duck! creamy potatoes!) and also drama and back-stabbery and people hoarding the extra game hens (those whores).
So that’s fun. But there’s also a lot of schlock (she meets her husband-to-be shortly before the book starts, and then loses her job, and he is all You should go to Paris and study cooking like you one time told me was your dream, and also I will come with you, and all that is very sweet but results in too much talk of learning the geography of your own heart). So it’s more sentimental and memoiry than Kitchen Counter, which is dryer and wryer and more salt-and-peppered to my taste.
And then, ok, the two books have contradicting theses. Kitchen Counter is all Cooking is easy! and Knife is all Cooking is hella hard! Which, fine, both are true. Making raw ingredients into edible tasties is less difficult than you’d think, but making same into precisely-turned French delicacies which will stand up to the scrutiny of dour French chefs is murderous. I just…the recipes in KC are all ‘Lazy Meal You Can Make With Cheap Meats and Whatever Vegetables You Have Handy’ whereas Knife is full of ‘Fancy Meat Type Stuffed With Something French and Cooked in a Complicated Fashion That Probably Involves Wine.’
So one is Practical and Interesting while the other is just Interesting, and I think you know which I prefer, BUT. Severe French Chefs and Hilarious Misendeavors and PARIS, you guys, with wineries and cheeseries and baguetteries around every corner!
On the whole, it ain’t no slouch.