Gabrielle Hamilton, Blood, Bones, and Butter
Unusual life and eatery experiences in compelling, well-paced morsels
New York chef Hamilton has built a career on feeding people small, meaningful meals at her beloved eatery Prune, and this bittersweet memoir doles out her unusual life experiences in equally compelling, well-paced morsels. After a magical, party-filled childhood in rural Pennsylvania with an exacting French ballet dancer mom, a whimsical set designer dad and four wild siblings, Hamilton’s fairy tale ended when her parents divorced. Abandoned and broke, the young teen found work in restaurants to support herself — and her precocious habits. Later on, the waitressing and catering jobs got her through a few failed runs at college, and finally, a graduate writing program. Despite her intention to become a published author, Hamilton’s passion for food — and for the ways food could convey emotion — drew her back to kitchens time and again. When she finally had the opportunity to open her own restaurant, she eagerly set about trying to recreate the cozy enclave of her lost youth, replete with bone marrow and sardine and Triscuit snacks. Her single-minded commitment brought in the crowds while alienating those closest to her. As a narrator, Hamilton is an alternately tough and vulnerable character whose difficult family life has led to ongoing personal disappointments, yet these very losses have also inspired culinary greatness. Her candid confessions, her obvious love for food and the sheer expressive force of her writing make Blood Bones & Butter a book to savor.