Friday, November 30, 2012

The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry by Kathleen Flinn

The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry by Kathleen Flinn
Published September 2008 by Penguin Group
Source: I bought my copy after reading Flinn's The Kitchen Counter Cooking School

Publisher's Summary:

This is the funny and inspiring account of Kathleen Flinn’s struggle in a stew of hot-tempered chefs, competitive classmates, her own “wretchedly inadequate” French, and the basics of French cuisine. Flinn was a thirty-six-year-old middle manager trapped on the corporate ladder—until her boss eliminated her job. So she cashed in her savings and moved to Paris to pursue her lifelong dream of attending the venerable Le Cordon Bleu cooking school.  

My Thoughts:

Having read The Kitchen Counter Cooking School, I had some idea going into this book what Flinn's writing style would be; even so, I was surprised by her willingness to be self-deprecating. I admired her courage in pursuing her dream, a dream she had had since she was a little girl. When you were having a play tea party, she was running a pretend restaurant. But she is the first to admit that she was woefully ill prepared for the coursework and for living in Paris.

The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry is as much a book about Flinn's romance with her now-husband, Mike and I must admit that I could have done with a little less of the romance and a little more about their time spent exploring Paris when Flinn wasn't in school. When Julia Child's wrote My Life In France, she found a way to meld  her life with husband, Paul, with the culture and food of France beautifully. On the other hand, I learned a lot more about the way the school teaches from Flinn than I did from Child. I also learned that I like to buy meat that retains no resemblance to the animal it came from. In France, apparently, rabbits are sold whole, skinned but with the head still you'll know you're not buying a cat. Really.

Some reviews have given Flinn some grief for using food as a metaphor for life lessons. Which seems a little silly to me; this is, after all, a person who was making major life changes while spending every day with food. Give the girl a break people. And it's true, the sharper your knife, the less you cry. Also the easier it will be to get stitches. Just sayin'.

As with her previous book (well, not her previous book but the book she'd written later but which I read first - would have been much faster just to name it; I see that now), Flinn includes recipes at the end of every chapter. These are more complicated, but definitely scaled down from the inspiration food prepared in the chapter and there are definitely some here I will be trying.

That wraps up this year's edition of Fall Feasting. Once again I didn't get anywhere near to reading all of the foodie books on my shelf. Which, as it turns out, sets me up perfectly for one of 2013's reading challenges. Or next year's Fall Feasting.


  1. I loved My Life in France and, despite the romance, it sounds like I'd enjoy this book, too. The Kitchen Counter Cooking School is still on my wish list.

  2. Sounds like a fun, light reading kind of a book.
    great review.

  3. I liked this one. I have The Kitchen Counter Cooking School in my library loot pile.

  4. This sounds like a fun read, one that will make one want to take off and go enroll in cooking school in France, or at least make something new for dinner. And I am so with you on the not wanting meat to resemble it's original form.. :D

  5. I haven't read either of these books but they do sound good - I will have to keep a look out for that challenge that you mention!

    I can't believe the story about selling the rabbit with head on so you would know its not a cat! I agree with you - I like my meats to not resemble anything that was once alive.

  6. Thanks for this review! I loooove food memoirs and I am always looking for new ones. This is definitely going on my list.

  7. I have her other book on my Kindle but I would read this one first. I think it sounds good and snarky people sometimes give me a rash.