The Pure Pleasure of Speaking with Bill Buford, author of "Dirt", about food, writing, and adventure

Bill Buford is an author, chef, and adventurer. I've read his two latest books in the last year.


Dirt, released in 2006, was the first half of an epic narrative that’s taken up the last two decades or so of Bill’s life. It starts with him asking to be let into the kitchen of a high-end restaurant in New York, Mario Batali’s Babbo, on the bottom rung, to learn the ropes. He goes to Italy to learn to cook pasta, and then back to Italy to learn to be a proper butcher. Dirt was a bestseller. 


Heat, released just this past May, picks up where Dirt left off. But to my mind, there are layers upon layers in this latest book that Bill’s earlier book didn’t touch. He stretches himself, in terms of reporting, in terms of pure daring to try things that many would be too scared to try in France, a country of intimidating culinary intensity, and in terms of writing. And we talk about the challenges he faced in structuring this book. It’s really fascinating stuff.


I also read, years ago, Bill's first book: “Among the Thugs," about football hooligans in Europe. That too was a thrill to read.


Bill was fiction editor at The New Yorker starting in the mid-1990's, and before that he relaunched a literary magazine named Granta in 1979. We talk about the commitment to great writing, no matter the topic. It was a true joy to have the conversation.


Outro music: "Couch" by NSTASIA and D*L*P

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