Saturday, April 30, 2011

Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef by Gabrielle Hamilton

New York City restauranteur Gabrielle Hamilton says she loves to talk, so it isn't surprising that she narrates her own memoir in the audiobook edition (Random House; 10 hours). She's a fabulous storyteller and her unconventional life has provided her with plenty of good material. Hamilton was the youngest of five children in a bohemian family headed by a theatre set designer and a former ballet dancer. At thirteen, after her parents divorced, Gabrielle was mostly left to her own devices and amused herself by stealing cars, doing drugs and landing her first job (washing dishes).

A long series of kitchen and catering jobs, serial lesbian relationships and desultory higher education eventually led to the opening of her own restaurant, Prune. The place was mostly staffed by lesbians in its early years. Then, Hamilton was courted by an Italian doctor 11 years her senior and agreed to marry him so that he wouldn't be deported from the U.S. The couple had little to say to each other and continued to live separately for years, even after they had two children, coming together only for a yearly visit to his family in southern Italy. It is through this ill-conceived marriage, however, that Hamilton sorts out her complicated feelings about family, and which brings her narrative full-circle to a satisfying conclusion.

A deliciously salty combo of food, travel and learning things the hard way. I'll also recommend Blood, Bones and Butter to those of my friends who are tearing out their hair in frustration over their badass teenaged daughters, to give them hope that things will turn out in the end.


Claire at Latitude said...

Shame this doesn't come in vegetarian. I can think of a vegetarian father (of a teen) to whom I'd love to give it.

Lindy said...

Hey, I'm a vegetarian and I loved the book. There's a scene that the squeamish may want to skip, however: the first time Gabrielle kills a chicken.