I recently completed a UCLA Extension course in "The Art of Creative Nonfiction." It was a fantastic, challenging, life-altering class. As part of each week's homework, our wonderful instructor had us read excerpts from outstanding autobiographies. One week, she introduced us to "Blood, Bones & Butter," by Gabrielle Hamilton, owner and chef of the restaurant "Prune" in New York City.
The excerpt was compelling, intriguing; I wanted more.
So I bought the book on my Kindle and roared through it in about three days flat.
And then I went out and bought the hardback. There are some books you just HAVE to own. This, for me, is one of them.
If you admire strong women, if you love stellar food writing, if you are intrigued by the concept of an award-winning chef who can write as well as she cooks, you need to read this book.
Hamilton's descriptions of food are sensual, forceful, amazing. But what really blows my mind is how fierce, how brutally honest, her writing is. She tells her story in an unvarnished, take-no-prisoners kind of way. Toward that end, she throws everybody under the bus--her parents, her siblings, her husband, and even herself. This woman is fearless!
Here's what no less a luminary than Anthony Bourdain says about her book:
"Magnificent. Simply the best memoir by a chef ever. Ever. Gabrielle Hamilton packs more heart, soul, and pure power into one beautifully crafted page than I've accomplished in my entire writing career. Blood, Bones & Butter is the work of an uncompromising chef and a prodigiously talented writer. I am choked with envy."
And this, from chef/writer/TV personality Mario Batali:
"Hamilton has changed the potential and raised the bar for all books about eating and cooking. Her nearly rabid love for all real food experience and her completely vulnerable, unprotected yet pure point of view unveils itself in both truth and inspiration. 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. After that I will apply for the dishwasher job at Prune to learn from my new queen."
Please, if you love to eat, cook, feed others, or read, you must get this book. I promise you will consume it.
And it will consume you.
Ms. Hamilton, you are my new goddess.