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Blood, Bones, and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef

by Gabrielle Hamilton

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,7621139,994 (3.68)73
Biography & Autobiography. Cooking & Food. Self-Improvement. Nonfiction. HTML:NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Before Gabrielle Hamilton opened her acclaimed New York restaurant Prune, she spent twenty hard-living years trying to find purpose and meaning in her life. Blood, Bones & Butter follows an unconventional journey through the many kitchens Hamilton has inhabited through the years: the rural kitchen of her childhood, where her adored mother stood over the six-burner with an oily wooden spoon in hand; the kitchens of France, Greece, and Turkey, where she was often fed by complete strangers and learned the essence of hospitality; Hamilton’s own kitchen at Prune, with its many unexpected challenges; and the kitchen of her Italian mother-in-law, who serves as the link between Hamilton’s idyllic past and her own future family—the result of a prickly marriage that nonetheless yields lasting dividends. By turns epic and intimate, Gabrielle Hamilton’s story is told with uncommon honesty, grit, humor, and passion.… (more)
  1. 00
    Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Anne Tyler (VenusofUrbino)
    VenusofUrbino: Hamilton's Prune is basically the same thing as Ezra's Homesick Restaurant.
  2. 00
    Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain (MyriadBooks)
  3. 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.
  4. 00
    Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 00
    Anything That Moves: Renegade Chefs, Fearless Eaters, and the Making of a New American Food Culture by Dana Goodyear (BookshelfMonstrosity)
  7. 00
    Hotbox: Inside Catering, the Food World's Riskiest Business by Matt Lee (DetailMuse)
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» See also 73 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 113 (next | show all)
First off, I think that Hamilton can write well. She can create a kitchen scene and make you feel like you are right there in the middle of things with her. Unfortunately, those scenes don't happen often enough.

She's had a tough life and done amazing things with limited resources but she's kind of an awful person. I was OK with her personality for the first part of the book but she started to lose me when she participated in the panel of female chefs at the CIA and then was so annoyed by the behavior of the other women that she just decided not to speak. She lost me further when she randomly stopped being a lesbian to marry an Italian guy who she certainly didn't seem to like much and then proceeded to complain constantly about how their marriage was terrible.

She's also an incredible snob about pretty much everything. (How dare she mock my vanilla latte!) When she described her epic blood sugar meltdown problem in the midst of telling us how she wouldn't stoop to eat food at a place that offered free mimosas no matter how hungry she was, she lost me forever.

Because I loved reading about the parties her father threw during her childhood and because I really enjoyed some of the other kitchen scenes, I'll give this three stars, but it probably only deserves two.




( )
  hmonkeyreads | Jan 25, 2024 |
It was a little disorienting how she would jump around in time, skipping 20 years here and then dropping a scene from that skipped time into a later chapter. Plus, what kind of author/chef skips the part where they travel the world? That's one of the most fun and interesting things people do in life, and she glossed it with a list of countries she hit and a few pages talking about how depressing Europe is in the winter.

The lovelessness, the inability to talk deeply and chat lightly, the staying together for family (his family, which she adored and didn't want to lose) even after all emotion had turned to hard resentment and dislike - all of this made her marriage feel like it was straight out of the 1950s, which was deeply unsettling. Since her marriage was involved in about 50% of the book, I was unsettled for that much of the book.

So why the four stars? First, I loved the descriptions of her early family life. Second, I love the descriptions of her husband's family, food, houses, kitchens, and Sunday lunches. Third, her descriptions of catering were fun and interesting. And finally, she is just really damn interesting.

Oh yeah, and this: "People who know me well understand fully what I am saying when I suggest that I am working an appetite and that we'd best be making our move. This means it is time to hit the road before my blood sugar - what's left of it - crashes to that point where I'm going to RUIN YOUR FUCKING DAY." Girrrrl, been there. Like every single weekend.
( )
  blueskygreentrees | Jul 30, 2023 |
Well, this review may be the skimpiest I have ever written because I read this book right at the beginning of the month and haven't had a moment to breathe, never mind write a review, until today.

Let's just say, I like memoirs in general, but this one really did stand out to me for it is complete and total honesty. Ms. Hamilton actually says things that other people only think. I LOVED that about this book.

Ms. Hamilton runs a successful restaurant in New York City, and this memoir details both her journey as a chef and as a person. She takes us from her childhood where she learned a love of food from her French mother through her teen angst amidst her parents' divorce through her career path (starting at the very bottom). The best part (in my opinion) discusses her unique and unusual marriage and relationship with her husband's Italian family.

A lot of things don't really go Ms. Hamilton's way, and she never wallows in self pity - - she just shares what she did and how she did it, including the good, bad, and the ugly thoughts she had along the way.

It didn't quite make it to five stars for me . . .and I think that may have been because she didn't quite delve as deeply into the restaurant business as I was hoping for - - this book is deeply personal. And because she is so, so frank - - sometimes your sympathy is lessened toward her. So, all in all, well worth reading and definitely it deserved the critical acclaim it received.
( )
  Anita_Pomerantz | Mar 23, 2023 |
This one took a while for me to get into it, although I liked it quite well once I did. The author is very angry, and while that feels very authentic and refreshing (as an angry person, I can relate), it also feels like the book is more about the swinging emotional temperature than it is about food or cooking. I can also strongly relate to Hamilton's ambivalence about her role as a female chef in a male-dominated career -- the push and pull of wanting people just to do the thing and recognize you for being great at the thing without gender qualifiers, but also the need for representation. It's funny, I really liked this book -- I liked the rawness, the unflinching hard work and the high standard that she holds herself to, but I also question writing it right before an impending divorce (? seems probable) -- because it left me all wrapped up in angry, frustrated marriage feelings when what I wanted more of was the food. ( )
  jennybeast | Apr 14, 2022 |
Truly loved Gabrielle Hamilton's poignant story of the struggles that have shaped her life and made her a highly acclaimed chef. Impressed by her unflinching retelling of the bad as well as the good. This book is not only the story of a chef, but the amazing story of a woman making life better for herself and her own. ( )
  ecb06c | Jan 22, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 113 (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. The same party, every year, when I was a kid.
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Biography & Autobiography. Cooking & Food. Self-Improvement. Nonfiction. HTML:NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Before Gabrielle Hamilton opened her acclaimed New York restaurant Prune, she spent twenty hard-living years trying to find purpose and meaning in her life. Blood, Bones & Butter follows an unconventional journey through the many kitchens Hamilton has inhabited through the years: the rural kitchen of her childhood, where her adored mother stood over the six-burner with an oily wooden spoon in hand; the kitchens of France, Greece, and Turkey, where she was often fed by complete strangers and learned the essence of hospitality; Hamilton’s own kitchen at Prune, with its many unexpected challenges; and the kitchen of her Italian mother-in-law, who serves as the link between Hamilton’s idyllic past and her own future family—the result of a prickly marriage that nonetheless yields lasting dividends. By turns epic and intimate, Gabrielle Hamilton’s story is told with uncommon honesty, grit, humor, and passion.

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