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Very quickly after meeting Gabrielle Hamilton, I understood why she was a terrific and much-admired chef. I knew that her restaurant, Prune, was ground-breaking, that she seemed to have come out of nowhere, instead of being a product of the "system" (she'd emerged from the invisible subculture of catering), to open one of the most quirky, totally uncompromising, and quickly-embraced restaurants in New York City. Her purportedly (but not really) Franco-phobic menus were intensely, notoriously personal, her early embrace of the nose-to-tail attitude was way, way ahead the times, and chefs--all chefs--seemed to like and respect her. Almost as quickly, it became apparent that this chef could write.
Short pieces appeared here and there over the years and they were sharp, funny, incisive, unsparing of both author and subjects--straight to the point and pretense-free, like Hamilton herself. She could write really well. And she had, from all accounts, a story to tell. So when it was announced that Blood, Bones, and Butter was in the works, I was very excited.
It was a long wait.
Five years later, I finally got my hands on an advance copy and eagerly devoured it. It was of course brilliant. I expected it to be. But I wasn't prepared for exactly how goddamn brilliant the thing was, or how enchanted, difficult, strange, rich, inspiring and just plain hard her life and career--her long road to Prune--had been. I was unprepared for page after page of such sharp, carefully-crafted, ballistically-precise sentences. I was, frankly, devastated. I put this amazing memoir down and wanted to crawl under the bed, retroactively withdraw every book, every page I'd ever written. And burn them.
Blood, Bones, and Butter is, quite simply, the far-and-away best chef or food-genre memoir...ever. EVER. It certainly kicked the hell out of my Kitchen Confidential, which suddenly, in a second, felt shallow, sophomoric and ultimately lightweight next to this...this monster of a book, this--at times--truly hardscrabble life…Blood, Bones, and Butter is deeper, better written, more hardcore, more fully fleshed-out; a more well-rounded story than every sunflower-and-saffron account of soft-core food porn in France. It's as bullshit and pretense-free as AJ Leibling--and at least as well written, but more poignant, romantic--even thrilling.
It makes any "as told to" account of famous chef's lives look instantly ludicrous and bloodless. I've struggled to think of somebody/anybody who's written a better account of the journey to chefdom and can't think of anyone who's come even close.
Writing a memoir of one's life as a chef--or even writing about one's relationship with food--has, with the publication of this book, become much more difficult. Hamilton has raised the bar higher than most of us could ever hope to reach. This book will sell a gazillion copies. It will be a bestseller. It will be an enduring classic. It will inspire generation after generation of young cooks, and anyone who really loves food and understands the context in which it is best enjoyed, NOT as some isolated, over-valued object of desire, but as only one important aspect of a larger, richer spectrum of experiences. Each plate of food--like the menu at Prune--is the end result of a long and sometimes very difficult struggle.
Read this book and prepare to clean your system of all that's come before. It's a game-changer and a truly great work by a great writer and great chef.--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
I adored Gabrielle and her story to get where she is today.Published 4 hours ago by Angela Roberts of Spinach Tiger
I'm sorry, but ---unlike this book I just painfully suffered through---let me share my opinion on this author and her "book" in a few short words:
"Wow, what... Read more
Brilliant and engrossing. Hard to put down. Makes you hungry even if you just ate.Published 4 days ago by Phyllis
My review agrees with those saying the book is well written, but GH is so negative and sounds so angry (at everyone else, not herself) that a more apt title would have been... Read morePublished 6 days ago by Samuel Tomich
Gabrielle Hamilton isn't just a genius at cooking but at writing as well. A charming, honest and mouth-watering autobiography. Read morePublished 9 days ago by J. Kleiman
This is one of the best memoirs I have read. Ms. Hamilton lets you into her mind and her emotions, while being true to how complex her life really is. Read morePublished 13 days ago by otherdeb
I love reading about food and cooking and relationships and this book combines all three with sensitive and acute writing as well.Published 13 days ago by mcg
After the rave reviews, I put this on my book list. I finally got around to reading it. The first chapter showed so much promise but it went down from there. What killed it? Read morePublished 15 days ago by hwydiva