"Dirt" by Bill Buford; Alfred A. Knopf (432 pages, $28.95)
The chef's hat on the cover and the subtitle reveal that the former New Yorker fiction editor's book does not deal with grime, although there's some of that, too. It's about "Adventures in Lyon as a Chef in Training, Father and Sleuth Looking for the Secret of French Cooking."
There's undoubtedly a family saga to be crafted from what turned out to be a multiyear French adventure, with young sons who returned to America unable to manage English-language schooling and a wife who somehow became a wine expert and raised those kids while Buford was spending 16-hour days in restaurant kitchens. But Buford focuses, instead, on food. Chefs who give him the cold shoulder when they're not throwing things at him, a bread maker who literally bakes himself into an early grave and a pig who is about to be very graphically slaughtered are a few of Buford's encounters in his witty, dishy and hungry-making memoir.
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