I’m sure we all know by now that I love food, that’s sort of a given. One of my other favorite things are books. Just like I’m not super picky about my food (picky meaning that within the limits of what I eat, I’ll eat almost anything), I’m not overly picky about my books. I read it all – biographies, autobiographies, historical nonfiction, romance novels, fantasy, classics, contemporary literature, scifi…the list goes on.
When you combine the two things together, you have one of my favorite genres to read: food memoirs.
My latest read is Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef by Gabrielle Hamilton.
Hamilton got her MFA in fiction writing, and it shows. The book is extraordinarily written; you can picture what she’s picturing, feel all her joys and resentments, and get inspired by her dogged determination and work ethic. She’s endlessly relatable, even if her story is light years away from the average person’s.
You instantly know she is not a Food Network chef star – even though her restaurant is supposedly fabulous. She talks of cleaning up human crap from the stoop of her restaurant, and then seeing a rat so filled with maggots that it looks alive. The book is raw – probably the most when she’s talking about her lackluster relationship with her Italian husband and how she manages that, her two children only months apart, and opening a restaurant.
Self taught, she writes about learning how NOT to cook from working in catering kitchens and how to do things right from various mentors. Taking the harder road not taken seems to be her MO, and she has stories of lines of coke in restaurant bathrooms, apartments infest with cockroaches, and a general feeling of being lost. I think that might be what’s most relatable – it took her a freaking long time to figure out what she was going to be and how she was going to do it.
Anthony Bourdain, one of the harshest critics in the food world, said “”Magnificent. Simply the best memoir by a chef ever. Ever.” Mario Batali said “”I will read this book to my children and then burn all the books I have written for pretending to be anything even close to this.”
If you like food, and you like books, I highly recommend this one. You won’t be able to put it down. Plus, it will really make you want to go to her restaurant, Prune, in New York City, and we could go together!