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Small Fires: An Epic in the Kitchen

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by Rebecca May Johnson
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This is the first book by British educator, writer, and editor Rebecca May Johnson, and we are pleased to say it lives up to the hype we were hearing when it first came out in the UK.

Small Fires is an intellectual but poetic meditation on kitchen work—one that does not ignore its laboriousness, nor its complexities.

Take, for instance, a particularly compelling vignette which follows the making and remaking of tomato sauce over the course of a lifetime. With each sputtering batch, the sauce changes as the cook asserts agency over the recipe. As the cook’s environment, circumstances, and emotions change, so too must the dish.

The atypical format of the writing—sometimes reflecting academic papers with citations, other times poetry or internal dialogue—keeps us on our toes. Rather than distracting, however, the playfulness mirrors the meandering nature of one’s own thoughts. Thought provoking and captivating.

A fresh and bold voice, leading the way for the next generation of food memoirists.


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