Feb 24, 12
Read in February, 2012
The first part of 'Blood, Bones & Butter' is an intoxicating mix of great writing and epicurean indulgence. I'm not normally fond of memoirs, since they're usually nothing more than haphazard collections of self-aggrandizing lies. Gabrielle Hamilton, however, has done an almost perfect job of writing a memoir that is both candid and yet modestly impersonal. Its best passages are about food and memory. The second half of the book was, frankly, a little confusing. She suspends her biography as a restaurateur and chef and takes up the subject of her curiously stultifying marriage. There's nothing wrong with this, obviously, but I simply didn't know what I was supposed to make of it. Why was she telling me this stuff? I enjoyed the coming-of-age story and the confessional aspects of her biography insofar as they shed a useful and interesting light on how a palate can mature, on how a career in the food business can take shape, on what life can be like for a chef in New York... but the details of her ill-defined relationship with her husband seemed to lack a context and connection to her previously established themes.
Sometimes after I read a novel that's been made into a film I'll complete the experience by watching the movie. In the case of 'Blood, Bones & Butter' I decided the best capstone experience would be to have a nice dinner at Gabrielle Hamilton's restaurant in the East Village, "Prune". I went with my gal and we had the quail, pork shoulder, a negroni, sardines & crackers, goat cheese & bread, mascarpone ice cream with caramel & croutons, and olive cake. Our meal was absolutely first-rate. All criticisms aside, this woman knows what she's talking about when it comes to food.