Have you ever picked up a book with the intention of just flipping through the first few pages and then coming up for air 30 minutes, an hour, or half a night later you realize you just couldn’t stop reading? That was how 32 Yolks started for me. I like to think I’m a foodie of sorts and as such have been a fan of Eric Ripert for quite some time. I have his cookbooks and watch his various television appearances but I’ll be honest, when this book came out I knew I had to buy it but I didn’t really expect to read it. Wait what? I know that might sound strange to you but those who know me and my tbr list well will also know that I have shelves and shelves of books “I’ll read at some point” and typically any biographies or memoirs I buy end up lost among them. They’re just typically not my thing–I’ll start a memoir, get bored and move on to another book but that was SO not the case with 32 Yolks!
32 Yolks From My Mother’s Table to Working the Line is the story of Eric Ripert’s life from his early childhood to the time he leaves France as a young man, fresh off his experience working for the legendary Joel Robuchon. It explores his passion for food, which blossomed at an early age due his own mother’s refined palate, as it grows and matures into the culinary genius we know today. It’s the story of the development of a chef. That’s what Ripert’s fans may be expecting of this book and would have been happy to read–but that is just a small part of the story.
“Two things happened the year I turned eleven: my father died and I became friends with my first professional chef, a guy names Jacques”
The first few years of Ripert’s life were nothing short of idillic He was happy, his parents were in love and their home was a wonderful place to be. It was not to last. By the time Ripert was eight his parents had divorced, his mother remarried to a man who abused him, and he was sent to boarding school. Ripert was a angry, lonely young man and it was clear that things would not be easy but still there were bright spots. Ripert shares with us tales of his culinary adventures, his memories of the time spent with his grandparents and extended family, and above all, love. It may sound strange talking about a book that others have described as heartbreaking, horrifying and scary (all in the blurbs on the book jacket) in terms of love and inspiration but that’s what I took from it–and that’s what made me want to read more. Yes, there were many tragedies in Ripert’s past that made me want to weep for the child he was or punch a person in his past but the magic of this tale is how each and every time he was able to move on, fight through, and eventually see past the darkness and share something beautiful.
The real story of 32 Yolks is one of loss, love, strength, fortitude, and perseverance. The story of a life well, but not easily, lived. Food may be the frame surrounding this tale, but the true story is found in the depths within.
Rating: 4.5 stars
Title: 32 Yolks From My Mother’s Table to Working the Line
Author: Eric Ripert with Veronica Chambers