Blood, Bones, & Butter

Blood, Bones, & Butter

The Inadvertent Education of A Reluctant Chef

Book - 2011
Average Rating:
Rate this:
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The Miami Herald * Newsday * The Huffington Post * Financial Times * GQ * Slate * Men's Journal * Washington Examiner * Publishers Weekly * Kirkus Reviews * National Post * The Toronto Star * BookPage * Bookreporter

"I wanted the lettuce and eggs at room temperature . . . the butter-and-sugar sandwiches we ate after school for snack . . . the marrow bones my mother made us eat as kids that I grew to crave as an adult. . . . There would be no 'conceptual' or 'intellectual' food, just the salty, sweet, starchy, brothy, crispy things that one craves when one is actually hungry. In ecstatic farewell to my years of corporate catering, we would never serve anything but a martini in a martini glass. Preferably gin."
Before Gabrielle Hamilton opened her acclaimed New York restaurant Prune, she spent twenty fierce, hard-living years trying to find purpose and meaning in her life. Above all she sought family, particularly the thrill and the magnificence of the one from her childhood that, in her adult years, eluded her. Hamilton's ease and comfort in a kitchen were instilled in her at an early age when her parents hosted grand parties, often for more than one hundred friends and neighbors. The smells of spit-roasted lamb, apple wood smoke, and rosemary garlic marinade became as necessary to her as her own skin.

Blood, Bones & Butter follows an unconventional journey through the many kitchens Hamilton has inhabited through the years: the rural kitchen of her childhood, where her adored mother stood over the six-burner with an oily wooden spoon in hand; the kitchens of France, Greece, and Turkey, where she was often fed by complete strangers and learned the essence of hospitality; the soulless catering factories that helped pay the rent; Hamilton's own kitchen at Prune, with its many unexpected challenges; and the kitchen of her Italian mother-in-law, who serves as the link between Hamilton's idyllic past and her own future family--the result of a difficult and prickly marriage that nonetheless yields rich and lasting dividends.

Blood, Bones & Butter is an unflinching and lyrical work. Gabrielle Hamilton's story is told with uncommon honesty, grit, humor, and passion. By turns epic and intimate, it marks the debut of a tremendous literary talent.
Publisher: New York : Random House, c2011
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9781400068722
Branch Call Number: 641 .5092 HAM
Characteristics: 291 p. ;,25 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Apr 25, 2019

I will say this. It was interesting and certainly she laid bare her warts and all. I listened to the audio version and she was ok reading her own book, although probably she would have been better off getting a professional. I give her kudos, she picked up a lot of italian in her married to the italian doctor with a house in Rome and southern italy, phase of her life. Of course, her italian husband was just looking for the blonde american. Her italian and accent while reading her book is actually very good.
However, I concluded she must be a very confused human being, moving between being hardcore lesbian to hetero and then back to lesbian.
She has a very strong western/american slant on life, despite having been exposed to other countries and cultures. For the life of me I could not figure out what her problem with her own family was, she had an idyllic childhood with a good mother and then when her parents marriage fell apart, it seems she went off the rails, and never recovered or reestablished a normal relationship with her own family. Really strange, and not explained and probably she doesn't even understand herself, she has no insight it seems. All in all, she seems a very vacuous individual. But, book still interesting.

Jan 08, 2019

Tried the audio version. Couldn't get past the monotone. Some authors would be better not reading their own works.

Will try the print version before completely abandoning it

Dec 16, 2017

Such an inspirational, beautifully written, quirky, engaging food memoir. Actually, food and cooking is a thread that weaves the life of a chef cohesively through but it's not mainly a foodie-type memoir. As a food memoir-obsessed reader, this was less interesting about the food (except the Italian stories) and more about the grit and determination it takes to become someone so successful and so at peace. This is a triumph over tragedy story without any kind of whining or pity, making it a truly tender and delicious read.

Aug 10, 2017

If this is a meal- this is super heavy, dense, you're so full you feel that you are ready to fast for a few days!
Her stories are so meaty and spiced up with an astonishing array of details - good, bad, ugly and some might find weird but so real and funny at times.
I admire her courage and no nonsense take on life, kitchen, relationships and cooking.
love, love this one!

ArapahoeKati Mar 28, 2017

I guess I thought this would be more about cooking. Sure, there are cooking stories in here. And the writing is very strong and evocative. But it didn't feel like a chef's memoir. It felt like it was about a person who didn't really want to be a chef but ended up being one because it was the only job she kept accepting.

Dec 29, 2015

Fascinating life and way of living. Truly unique and original. Also, enjoyable to reconnect with a time before smartphones and the Internet. One of the best books I read this year.

Aug 17, 2015

The last disc is absolutely beautiful in its imagery. Great ending.

WVMLStaffPicks Aug 30, 2014

Gabrielle Hamilton may have been a reluctant chef but she certainly didn't hesitate to cook. Never formally trained, she developed her passion for food and feeding people from her French mother. Written in the same way that she runs her New York City restaurant, Prune—with great passion and fearless honesty—this is a rhapsodic, can't-put-down memoir that even non-foodies will enjoy.

Jul 11, 2013

Engaging warts-and-all memoir begins with the author's turbulent childhood in rural PA, where she was forced to find any job after both parents abandon their mostly-grown children. The only job she could find at 14 was in restaurant kitchen work, where the 'inadvertent education' begins. A drug-filled adolescence and early adulthood in NYC as a cocktail waitress and later as a catering drudge continue the food tutelage, until cooking becomes her go-to way of earning a living as she hones her writing skills. A bit scattered in chronology - suddenly there is mention of a husband and children when her previous relationships were with women - she bounces around her adulthood with tantalizing bits of story-telling, laid out like some crazy banquet. The writing is solid, though, and you don't need to be a foodie to dig in.

JCLBethanyT May 15, 2013

A great read for foodies and memoir fans alike--Hamilton touches on her fractured rural childhood, her wild days in coke-fueled NYC and her relationships alongside her experiences with food and her time as a restaurant owner. The author has a prescient wit and an eye for detail that brings this memoir to life.

View All Comments

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability
Sep 12, 2017

gaialiang thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at PMPL

To Top