Originally published at Am I the Only One Dancing?. Please leave any comments there.
Blood, Bones and Butter in the window (Photo credit: Marisa | Food in Jars)
When I put e-books on my library hold list to read and review, I am sometimes completely unaware of what I’ve just ordered. This was very much the case with Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef by Gabrielle Hamilton. I thought I had ordered a cookbook to browse through. Instead, I had ordered a memoir by a cook (a chef, really).
Happy, happy mistake. This is a meandering memoir full of foodie-licious details of French and Italian cooking and the sort of personal details that make you either want to put the book down for a moment to absorb what you have just read, or plow forward.
I read this, coincidentally, during a weekend devoted to making peace with my family of birth. Hamilton, too, describes such an event, and like mine hers was a fraught mixture of success and failure. Mine, however, is unlikely to be set down as a memoir, certainly not one as mouthwatering as hers.
I identified with the craziness of her childhood life, the mistakes of her young adulthood, the settled certainty of later choices and then the even later questioning of that certainty. I grew to care about the character even as I sometimes judged her as harshly as I judged myself.
Throughout reading it, I badly wanted to hand it to 15 year old overthinker to enjoy, but realized even with the impulse that he needed more life experience to truly appreciate this book, even with his love of cooking and dream of being a chef someday.
This was not, for me, an easy book to read. It was, however, fascinating and heartbreaking and full of truth in both its lurid ugliness and beauty. I hope someday to whip up a concoction this complex and delicious, and suspect, sadly, that I never will.
Wow, did that get poetical. Deal with it, folks. That’s how the book made me feel.