Excerpt: BLOOD, BONES, AND BUTTER by Gabrielle Hamilton

Oh, you guys.  Wow.  I was incredibly lucky recently to score a galley of BLOOD, BONES, AND BUTTER by Gabrielle Hamilton (Random House, March 2011).  When I heard that Anthony Bourdain had called it "the best food memoir by a chef ever. EVER" and that Mario Batali said that he would "apply for the dishwasher job at Prune to learn from my new queen", I knew I had to read it.  So here's a spoiler:

It really is that good.

I loved it.  I savored every word.  I won't do a full "review", as it's still five months out from publication.  But here is an excerpt of a section that particularly spoke to me:

I want to do the cooking.  It is what grounds me, gives me pleasure, and is the best way for me to communicate with the Italian-speaking family and to make a contribution.  But it can also make me feel like the hired help.  While Michel babysits the kids at the pool for the day, dozing in and out of naps and reading the newspaper and having fluid conversations with people in his native tongue I am nagged by an emptiness while I am neatening and organizing the drawers and shelves in all the cabinets, and it continues as I move up and down each aisle in the grocery store, and interferes still while I am chopping each onion at the newly created cooking island in front of the kitchen stove.  By the time I check out at the grocery store and I've put this grocery bill on my personal card, sauted the onions with the potatoes, and wiped down the counter, I feel precariously poised exactly between totally perfect, as if I am exactly where I should be, and totally fucked-up, as if I were bankrolling my own martyrdom. [quoted from advanced reader's edition]

Oh my god.  Yes.

Is this the "best" passage I could have shared?  Perhaps not.  But this section summed up so many of my own conflicted feelings about cooking for my family and friends: I love cooking...but...god, I'm so not the caterer, dudes.  I am not the Alice to your Brady Bunch.  And the best food writing, in my mind, is that which reflects back to us our own experiences, our own passions, our own humanity.  Which BLOOD, BONES, AND BUTTER accomplishes.  In spades.  I most certainly wasn't doing coke lines and living on my own at 16 years old...but somehow, some way, Gabrielle Hamilton's experiences still end up being my own.  And don't even get me started on her passage about women in restaurants: I'm not a chef in a restaurant but Hamilton still manages to mirror my own feelings about being a woman in a professional environment.  It's brilliant.

To keep myself from going on and on, I just want to end by saying this: buy it.  Mark it, pre-order it, schedule it on your Outlook.  This is the second coming of M.F.K Fisher.  And I do not say this lightly.

Eat, drink, and jump on the Gabrielle Hamilton bandwagon.


Beth S. said...

I just put it on my to-read list.

Unknown said...

Beth, I can't imagine you'll be disappointed - it's gorgeous.

I was so hesitant to discuss a book 5 months out...but I can't NOT talk about it! It's one of those books...

jama said...

I heard about this one and can't wait for it to come out. Thanks for advance sneak peek!