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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.
I bought her cookbook right after reading this. Lots of fun for a 26 year old female sous chef to read.Published 5 days ago by Kristin Gumbert
Totally unexpected. Full of surprises. Shocking at times, dreamy at others.Published 17 days ago by Laura
While I found the writing to be very well executed, and I rather enjoyed the writing about cooking, I found that I disliked the author so much that I couldn’t enjoy the book. Read morePublished 19 days ago by ZC
A great read. Ms Hamilton is quite the interesting character - a semi-homeless waif who followed a path similar to Anthony Bourdain and earned her burns - only she ends up with a... Read morePublished 20 days ago by Chris Korody
The premise of the book was interesting but I just did not find it engaging. Characterization just did not connect for me and I never felt I knew anything in particular about the... Read morePublished 21 days ago by Ginny Sutton
There were some major gaps in the narrative that didn't make sense, such as when she was appearing on a radio show and the story still didn't have any information on her opening a... Read morePublished 27 days ago by Susan B. Wilson
This book was too disjointed for me. My reading experience was not good because I could notf follow the story. The parts of the book were creative though.Published 1 month ago by Mildred J. White
Readable enjoyable. Full of life in Smerica and Europe. Lots of food, really good food. Very intimate and revealing. Great read.Published 1 month ago by Casey Cat