Blood, Bones and Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton


Audiobook.  The chef of Prune, a 30-seat restaurant in the East Village, has written a compelling biography. She remembers her childhood as idyllic, if unconventional and chaotic; the divorce of her parents when she was 13 was traumatic.  As the youngest of 5 children, she was most vulnerable and naturally least able to fend for herself.  In the small town where the family had lived, she was left almost on her own and survived by stealing food and eventually by going to work in the kitchen of a local restaurant.  

She kept working in the food industry in various capacities with breaks for college, graduate school and some years traveling in Europe.  One of her interesting gigs was the annual summer camp out in the wilderness where she cooked for hundreds of little campers.  She speaks of cleaning out and organizing the kitchen and walk-in freezer space there with love.  When she was 34, she picked up a lease on the space where Prune and has made it a very successful restaurant.  

She met and married an Italian doctor, thus ending a long-time relationship with another woman.  The doctor courted her assiduously and he did want a green card.  She was charmed especially when he took her to meet his family who lived in Rome and spent a month in the summers in the villa in Apulia.  Their relationship cooled almost immediately and apparently has been held together by their two children and the continued sojourns in Italy.  

She is a wonderful story-teller, and I loved hearing about her struggles running a restaurant, especially when hugely pregnant.  She has an appealing way of conveying her love of creating order out of chaos.  She does, however, become strident from time to time, for example, when she describes anyone who lets their 3-month old baby cry it out as unfit for motherhood.  She readily admits her tendency to scream obscenities, but claims she recovers quickly and apologizes nicely.

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