Whereas for some people, cooking or baking in the kitchen is unpleasant, for me it is a pleasure, a way to relieve stress, to create things that will fill others with satisfaction. There are tools for many of the things I need to do while preparing food, and like most people, I have favorites. I like that coated whisk for chocolate pudding, the dough hook for certain kinds of bread dough, the tiny whisk for just a few eggs.
When my mom recommended Erica Bauermeister's book THE LOST ART OF MIXING, I figured it would be a story about cooking. It is. But it is so much more than that. Each chapter focuses on one of the eight people whose lives come together in the book: Lillian, Chloe, Tom, Finnegan, Isabelle, Louise, Al, and Abby. One owns a restaurant. One longs to be a chef and works at that restaurant. One has experienced tremendous loss and learns to love again. One loves people's stories and making life gentler for others. One is losing her memory but can read people so well. One is angry and reads people so poorly. One wants so much to be loved and appreciated. One sees only a single way to live. Sometimes the mixing of their lives seems effortless. At other times, it is strained, reminding me that we all need to consider the experiences of those we encounter instead is making assumptions.
I loved how the author wove together their stories, how tidbits would appear once and reappear later in surprise, how sometimes one person would be the expert at mixing. I especially loved the importance placed upon rituals. As Al explains, "Rituals are like making time into family...Normally, time just flows along, and you might not pay any more attention to it than you would strangers on the street. A ritual makes you stop and notice. It says, look, you're growing up, or older, or into something. It turns that moment into something you carry with you forever, when otherwise it could have just drifted away." p. 36