I've just finished reading Blood, Bones & Butter: The inadvertent education of a reluctant chef, by Gabrielle Hamilton. Wow, what a journey! People like Hamilton have sucked the marrow out of life, and I loved the transition from what seemed like a lost, misspent adolescence to success on her own terms in Manhattan. I would have said the whole thing was a true tour de force, but I found the long last section on parenting, Italian summer holidays and searching for an open restaurant in New York to be a little overcooked, unfunny and self-absorbed (for which I don't think Hamilton would necessarily apologise - the last section is a drift into making sure she gets out of her life what she needs). It seemed like padding out a shorter work to book length. A disappointing dessert after a great meal, but still a meal you'd talk about.
I had read a few brief excerpts in The New Yorker over the past couple of years. Her teenage years and experiences were astonishing - left on her own for a summer as a young teen; an empty relationship with her mother who was clearly a massive early influence on the course of her life and her way of thinking about food. I kind of like that she's writing as memoir of the hazy past days that aren't that far distant in time from my own childhood, which shows something of how the US has changed over the past 40 years. Maybe we're just getting old. I like that she's writing a memoir while she's still out there in the thick of things.
A bonus for me was her sojourn in Ann Arbor, where she suddenly realises she's had a mentor. She tells this story separately here. This brought back some memories for me of walking around campus, though I don't think I've been back to Ann Arbor since around 1992.
In all, a worthy read for its gripping story of a journey through the ranks to opening her own restaurant. I wouldn't even have minded more fly-on-the-wall details of this phase of her life, but maybe they're a bit current and sensitive. So, my fourth book this month. I've got a couple more under way at present, so hopefully can maintain the momentum. Read on!