Blood, Bones, & Butter

The Inadvertent Education of A Reluctant Chef

Hamilton, Gabrielle

Book - 2011
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
Blood, Bones, & Butter
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK nbsp; NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The Miami Herald * Newsday * The Huffington Post * Financial Times * GQ * Slate * Men's Journal * Washington Examiner * Publishers Weekly * Kirkus Reviews * National Post * The Toronto Star * BookPage * Bookreporter "I wanted the lettuce and eggs at room temperature . . . the butter-and-sugar sandwiches we ate after school for snack . . . the marrow bones my mother made us eat as kids that I grew to crave as an adult. . . . There would be no 'conceptual' or 'intellectual' food, just the salty, sweet, starchy, brothy, crispy things that one craves when one is actually hungry. In ecstatic farewell to my years of corporate catering, we would never serve anything but a martini in a martini glass. Preferably gin." nbsp; Before Gabrielle Hamilton opened her acclaimed New York restaurant Prune, she spent twenty fierce, hard-living years trying to find purpose and meaning in her life. Above all she sought family, particularly the thrill and the magnificence of the one from her childhood that, in her adult years, eluded her. Hamilton's ease and comfort in a kitchen were instilled in her at an early age when her parents hosted grand parties, often for more than one hundred friends and neighbors. The smells of spit-roasted lamb, apple wood smoke, and rosemary garlic marinade became as necessary to her as her own skin. 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; the soulless catering factories that helped pay the rent; 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 difficult and prickly marriage that nonetheless yields rich and lasting dividends. Blood, Bones & Butter is an unflinching and lyrical work. Gabrielle Hamilton's story is told with uncommon honesty, grit, humor, and passion. By turns epic and intimate, it marks the debut of a tremendous literary talent.

Publisher: New York : Random House, c2011
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9781400068722
Branch Call Number: 641.5092 H2181b 2011
Characteristics: 291 p. ;,25 cm
Alternate Title: Blood, bones, and butter


From Library Staff

The chef of New York's Prune restaurant presents an account of her search for meaning and purpose in the 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.

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. By turns epi... Read More »

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Dec 16, 2014
  • KindianaJones rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

I read this book based on the glowing recommendation of Anthony Bourdain and was not disappointed. A very well-written and interesting memoir of an unconventional life.

Aug 30, 2014
  • WVMLStaffPicks rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Gabrielle Hamilton may have been a reluctant chef but she certainly didn't hesitate to cook. Never formally trained, she developed her passion for food and feeding people from her French mother. Written in the same way that she runs her New York City restaurant, Prune—with great passion and fearless honesty—this is a rhapsodic, can't-put-down memoir that even non-foodies will enjoy.

Jul 11, 2013
  • hellandback rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Engaging warts-and-all memoir begins with the author's turbulent childhood in rural PA, where she was forced to find any job after both parents abandon their mostly-grown children. The only job she could find at 14 was in restaurant kitchen work, where the 'inadvertent education' begins. A drug-filled adolescence and early adulthood in NYC as a cocktail waitress and later as a catering drudge continue the food tutelage, until cooking becomes her go-to way of earning a living as she hones her writing skills. A bit scattered in chronology - suddenly there is mention of a husband and children when her previous relationships were with women - she bounces around her adulthood with tantalizing bits of story-telling, laid out like some crazy banquet. The writing is solid, though, and you don't need to be a foodie to dig in.

May 15, 2013
  • JCLBethanyT rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

A great read for foodies and memoir fans alike--Hamilton touches on her fractured rural childhood, her wild days in coke-fueled NYC and her relationships alongside her experiences with food and her time as a restaurant owner. The author has a prescient wit and an eye for detail that brings this memoir to life.

Feb 19, 2013
  • kdeoak rated this: 1 stars out of 5.

I agree with the reviews from LIterary Journal and Publishers Weekly cited on this website more than the glowing reviews from by Anthony Bourdain, the NYT and others. It is at times a fascinating, and at times very funny, account of Gabrielle's life, the restaurant Prune and a paean to good, fresh, honest food. But she is annoying! And the writing did not flow and at times she just went on and on . . . I found much better writing, very seductive and enticing food, a lot of humour and pathos and an engrossing life story in the wonderful book "The Dirty Life -On Farming Food and Love" by Kristin Kimball.

Oct 18, 2012
  • EndsWell rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

I really enjoyed this memoir, although it's quite sad. It did drag a bit toward the end for me, but the first half went quickly.

Aug 16, 2012
  • leapyrtwins rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

Book is just so-so. Never heard of her before; but I'm not really into chefs.

Jun 22, 2012
  • chargirl rated this: 1 stars out of 5.

The writing in the first 1/4 of the book is fresh, and so well-structured that I was instantly hooked into the story. However, I struggled mightily to finish this one.

The only explanation for the extremely quick deterioration in prose and content after her childhood/teen years is that the author was coming up against a publication deadline so just started typing a stream-of-consciousness screed against any and all who hurt, anger, or even mildly irritate her (her mother, her husband, patrons of her restaurant, patrons of other, less worthy restaurants, a random old woman living upstairs from her restaurant, people who move to NYC , etc.) and then hurriedly handed it in (meaning, therefore, that the publishers did not have time to properly EDIT the book either).

Unfortunately none of the other characters in the book are fleshed out AT ALL - her children don't even have personalities - and the memoirist becomes not only unlikable but extremely boring as well. I think she must have been in the midst of her divorce when she wrote it and serves as an object lesson for why one should really, really, really, not do this. I think perhaps even she realized how unpleasant and bitter she sounded and therefore felt compelled to add a postscript with a pretty unconvincing account of how she let her resentments and disappointments go.

Jun 05, 2012

This memoir proves that sometimes what we learn when we’re young stays with us for our entire lives. This is true, not only for Gabrielle Hamilton’s inevitable path into making food for others, but also her troubling inability to maintain healthy relationships. As Hamilton’s once idyllic childhood comes to an abrupt end with a divorce and subsequent abandonment, she sets her life on a course of hard living and independence. This no-hold barred, quickly moving narrative allows the reader an uncensored view into the complex world of the author - from her lesbian relationships, to her heterosexual marriage, and from her low-paying kitchen jobs to owning her own restaurant.

May 30, 2012
  • karensindayen rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

I enjoyed this book so much I ate at Prune the day after I read it. Gabrielle Hamilton's story is filled with sadness, excitement, and triumph.

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