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Blood, bones & butter : the inadvertent education of a reluctant chef (edition 2011)

by Gabrielle Hamilton

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,077887,750 (3.76)61
Member:wyvernfriend
Title:Blood, bones & butter : the inadvertent education of a reluctant chef
Authors:Gabrielle Hamilton (Author)
Info:London : Chatto & Windus, 2011.
Collections:Library Loans, Read but unowned
Rating:***1/2
Tags:non-fiction, biography, chef, cooking, library, read, 2012, pp

Work details

Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef by Gabrielle Hamilton

  1. 00
    Blue Plate Special: An Autobiography of My Appetites by Kate Christensen (baystateRA)
    baystateRA: Food memoirs that both start out with the authors' relationships to their mothers and childhood family mealtimes.
  2. 00
    Anything That Moves: Renegade Chefs, Fearless Eaters, and the Making of a New American Food Culture by Dana Goodyear (BookshelfMonstrosity)
  3. 00
    Under the Tuscan sun by Frances Mayes (MyriadBooks)
    MyriadBooks: Under the Tuscan Sun is a dreamier book, gentler and more idealistic than the rough-and-tumble and sometimes drug-soaked Blood, Bones & Butter, but both authors adore Italy and are lavish at showing their love on the pages.
  4. 00
    Little Heathens by Mildred Armstrong Kalish (MyriadBooks)
    MyriadBooks: Right, so the story Blood, Bones & Butter took a hard left turn to big city living after childhood but the writing style was as honest and uncompromising and as full of food as Little Heathens.
  5. 00
    Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain (MyriadBooks)
  6. 00
    Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Anne Tyler (VenusofUrbino)
    VenusofUrbino: Hamilton's Prune is basically the same thing as Ezra's Homesick Restaurant.
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» See also 61 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 89 (next | show all)
I really enjoyed the author's perspective. The book's prose was really enjoyable and I admired the author's authenticity and honesty. I found the ending a little bit sad and I wish I could know more about how things turned out for her. ( )
  lovelypenny | Feb 4, 2016 |
If you can get past the swearing and morbid descriptions, it is interesting how she became a chef. ( )
  AnaKurland | Jan 30, 2016 |
A writer, a master chef and a mother. Gabrielle Hamilton has seen and done so much in her life, making her one very interesting person. I was fascinated and intrigued with her path, rocky bumpy and riddled with broken bits. She took those bits and twisted and diced them into a wonderful future. I found myself just liking this strong genuine women. ( )
  TheYodamom | Jan 29, 2016 |
"As best as we could, using the butter-yellow melamine plates, we artfully arranged soppressata, Alphonse olives, hard cheeses, and bread that had crust and body – that could actually hurt the roof of your mouth if you were accustomed. We fried fatty, bony duck wings and coated them in toasted sesame seeds. We untangled mounds of curly bitter endive and tamed it with pear and walnuts and vinegar with bacon fat."

As I made my way through this book, I kept thinking: man, this book and her life are imbued, suffused, just completely infused with food. And my other thought: good god, what a life she had led. Being left on her own (accidentally?) as a kid and taking on a job at a restaurant (and hijacking cars in workshops to get to said job) to make money, essentially her first and very young foray into the culinary universe. Working as an underaged waitress at a bar. Doing coke and other drugs. Backpacking through Europe in winter with not very much money. Saying yes to owning a restaurant when she’s had no experience managing one (she’s had plenty of experience working as a catering chef but that’s a different ball game). Cooking for summer campers, including a young gourmand who’s father is a rather famous someone and some idiotic counselors who feel for the lobsters they’re going to consume anyway. Taking up an MFA in Michigan. Working the egg station at her restaurant while heavily pregnant and scheduling her childbirth when some members of her kitchen staff quit on her! This is a life boldly (perhaps sometimes a little foolishly?), led. And she puts all of it into her New York restaurant, Prune.

"And I wanted to bring all of it, every last detail of it – the old goat herder smoking filterless cigarettes coming down the mountain, crushing oregano and wild mint underfoot; Iannis cooking me two fried eggs without even asking me if I cared for something to eat; that sweet creamy milk that the milk wallah in Delhi frothed by pouring in a long sweeping arc between two pots held as far apart as the full span on his arms from his cart decorated with a thousand fresh marigolds – into this tiny thirty-seat restaurant."

This book shines with such a gorgeous, delicious lustre when Hamilton talks about food, about her mom’s teaching them to forage for food in their own backyard, about Andre Soltner of Lutèce making an omelette, about making oriecchette in Italy (she married an Italian who courted her with homemade ravioli), and even about freelancing at catering companies (which makes me so rethink ever eating catered food. Here’s a hint: you know those canapes on toasts? Those toasts probably have been sitting around in the kitchens for days and days.)

"We’d tromp around in the mud and taunt the geese in the meadow who’d lower their necks and come at us hissing mad, try to spear fish in the stream, and pick the big black berries off the mulberry bushes near our mailbox while inside our mother would whistle along with the classical music station, stir pots of fragrant stews, and repose in her chair, howling out loud, a New Yorker open on her lap and a particular cartoon cutting her in half."

But the bits about her family, especially her mother, are a little hard to swallow. There is so much angst and tension between the two of them that it very nearly pushes the reader away. But like that car wreck you pass on the highway, you just can’t tear your eyes from.

Blood, Bones and Butter is full of life, full of passion. Her dedication to her work, to her restaurant, to her children, is unceasing. Her story, a little bittersweet, the narrative a bit confusing at times, but a very hearty, satisfying read. ( )
  olduvai | Jan 19, 2016 |
I saw the 4 stars rated for this book and thought I'd give it a shot - wow, I don't know what makes me so different but I really disliked this book. It is written decently in that all the sentences seem to make sense and, I'll admit, the candid nature and witticisms present in the first couple chapters made me think reading this was going to be a positive experience but... sheesh... this author should be on one of those lists like "the worlds most intolerable, obtuse, unsympathetic, one dimensional people". Totally unaware of her privilege (like, for example, being able to call a rich brother who ponies up an expensive lawyer to get her out of a legal jamb) she lashes out at some... many.?.. most(?) other people in the world. Writing grad students? forget it, they're all pompous and trite, NOT LIKE HER, other women chefs? they're all about doing the least amount of work to become rich and famous NOT LIKE HER (who somehow feels that stealing and taking advantage of people is part of "hard work"). I just found this book and, in particular, the tone of the book, particularly slimy and mean-spirited. I'm so confused... what are the 4-star ratings for? ( )
  marshapetry | Sep 23, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 89 (next | show all)
Though Ms. Hamilton’s brilliantly written new memoir, “Blood, Bones & Butter,” is rhapsodic about food — in every variety, from the humble egg-on-a-roll sandwich served by Greek delis in New York to more esoteric things like “fried zucchini agrodolce with fresh mint and hot chili flakes” — the book is hardly just for foodies. Ms. Hamilton, who has an M.F.A. in fiction writing from the University of Michigan, is as evocative writing about people and places as she is at writing about cooking, and her memoir does as dazzling a job of summoning her lost childhood as Mary Karr’s “Liars’ Club” and Andre Aciman’s “Out of Egypt” did with theirs.
 
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This book is dedicated to all of my families--the one I come from, the one I married into, the one I am making with my own children, and the one I cook with every day at the restaurant. You are my blood, my bones, and, for sure, my sweet butter.
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We threw a party.
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The chef of New York's East Village Prune restaurant presents an unflinching account of her search for meaning and purpose in the food-central rural New Jersey home of her youth, marked by a first chicken kill, an international backpacking tour and the opening of a first restaurant.… (more)

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