From Goodreads: Lillian and her restaurant have a way of drawing people together. There’s Al, the accountant who finds meaning in numbers and ritual; Chloe, a budding chef who hasn’t learned to trust after heartbreak; Finnegan, quiet and steady as a tree, who can disappear into the background despite his massive height; Louise, Al’s wife, whose anger simmers just below the boiling point; and Isabelle, whose memories are slowly slipping from her grasp. And there’s Lillian herself, whose life has taken a turn she didn’t expect. . . .
The most striking thing about Erica Bauermeister’s novels is the kindness they exude. In a world filled with churlish politicians, rampant divorces, and ubiquitous chain restaurants, Bauermeister’s prose and content is like a breath of fresh air. The Lost Art of Mixing is much like her debut novel The School of Essential Ingredients, a calming, meditative, compassionate look at the way food, friends, and family bind people together.
In the case of this particular story, the tie that binds is Lillian and her restaurant. Told through alternating points of view, the novel nearly functions as a collection of interwoven short stories featuring both old and new characters. Lillian has a way of knowing exactly what you need, even if it isn’t what you want – this makes her invaluable to those around her, even if she doesn’t always feel that way. This review would not be complete if I failed to mention that though I know she is a fictional top-notch chef, I still dream about eating at Lillian’s restaurant – the food descriptions are that good. The prose and plot are intelligent, quiet, and unpretentious. The Lost Art of Mixing is not for everyone, as it is neither action-packed, nor riveting. Instead, it is a book to be savored. If you are a fan of food and fiction (or, better yet, food in fiction), I cannot recommend this enough.
Lillian struggles with food in this novel, she has more aversions than cravings. I can commiserate. I am not a picky person, but there are a few foods that I find revolting – particularly meringue and coffee (do those even qualify as food?). Confession: I’ve never tried coffee. One of the few items she finds palatable: lemon. This is a recipe for Lemon Ricotta Pancakes. If you feel like pairing a book and pancakes with a movie, watch Stealing Beauty, it possesses the same type of quiet comfort. Though I know I’ve already reached the recommendation threshold, here’s a song to go with your book, pancakes, and movie: Mazzy Star’s Rhymes of an Hour. Too much? Probably. Just one more thing…
The Lost Art of Mixing extols the virtues of good, clean eating without reaching the level of pretentious, obnoxious food snob (you know who you are). Watch the clip folks, it’s fun.