Book Reviews

The Poet’s Guide to Food, Drink, & Desire
by Gaylord Brewer

The Banquet of Donny & Ari: Scenes from the Opera
by Naomi Guttman

by Michael Pollan

Revenge Baking
by Randon Billings Noble

Biting the Apple
by Jeanie Greensfelder

Best Food Writing 2014
edited by Holly Hughes

Creamy and Crunchy
by Jon Krampner

Biting through the Skin
by Nina Mukerjee Furstenau

Feeding Orchids to Slugs
by Ann Mah

Mastering the Art of French Eating
by Florencia Clifford

Ivan Ramen
by Ivan Ramen

Third Thursday Potluck Cookbook
by Nancy Vienneau

Mint Tea & Minarets
by Kitty Morse

Prospero’s Kitchen
by Diana Farr Louis and June Marino

Mushroom: A Global History
by Cynthia Bertelsen

One Straw Revolution
by Masanobu Fukuoka

Fried Walleye & Cherry Pie
by Peggy Wolff

Day of Honey: A Memoir of Food, Love, and War
by Annia Ciezadlo

by Chloe Yelena Miller

The Hungry Ear
by Kevin Young

Best Food Writing 2012
by Holly Hughes

Dinner: a Love Story
by Jenny Rosenstrach

My Kitchen Wars
by Betty Fussell

American Cookery
by Laura Kalpakian

Apron Anxiety
by Alyssa Shelasky

Cucina Povera
by Pamela Sheldon Johns

Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen
by Laurie Colwin

The Social Life of Coffee
by Brian Cowan

The Raw and the Cooked
by Jim Harrison

Modernist Cuisine
by Nathan Myhrvold, Chris Young, and Maxime Bilet

Horsemen of the Esophagus
by Jason Fagone

Coffee Philosophy for Everyone
by Scott F. Parker and Michael W. Austin

by Kathryn Borel

Food Rules
by Michael Pollan

On Reading
by Rilke and Ruskin

America the Edible
by Adam Richman

Interview with the author of Party Girls,
Diane Goodman

Death Warmed Over
by Lisa Rogak

How to Cook a Crocodile
by Bonnie Lee Black

Great Food,
All Day Long

by Maya Angelou

Love Bites: Marital Skirmishes in the Kitchen
by Christopher Hirst

Best Food Writing 2011
edited by Holly Hughes

Balzac's Omelette
by Anka Muhlstein

The Little House Cookbook
by Barbara M. Walker

Muffins and Mayhem
by Suzanne Beecher

As Always, Julia:
The Letters of Julia Child and Avis De Voto


by Jason Wilson

The Particular Sadness
of Lemon Cake

by Aimee Bender

The Bluberry Years
by Jim Minick

Livingston and the Tomato
by A. W. Livingston

by Barry Estabrook

Palmento: A Sicilian Wine Odyssey
by Robert V. Camuto

Best Food Writing 2010 edited
by Holly Hughes

by Lizzie Collingham

Four Fish
by Paul Greenberg

The Physiology
of Taste

by Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

Far Flung
and Well Fed

by R. W. Apple, Jr.

The Food of a Younger Land
by Mark Kurlansky

The Dirty Life
by Kristin Kimball

by Michael Ruhlman

Cooking with Italian Grandmothers
by Jessica Theroux

Blood, Bones & Butter
by Gabrielle Hamilton

by Steve Almond

The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book
by Alice B. Toklas

Medium Raw
by Anthony Bourdain

Appetite City
by William Grimes

Twain's Feast
by Andrew Beahrs

97 Orchard
by Jane Ziegelman

Born Round
by Frank Bruni

by Kate Moses

Full English by
Tom Parker Bowles

Following Fish by
Samanth Subramanian

Eating Animals by
Jonathan Safran Foer

Immortal Milk: Adventures in Cheese
by Eric LeMay

For You, Mom. Finally
by Ruth Reichl

Farm City
by Novella Carpenter

Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant
edited by Jenni Ferrari-Adler

I ♥ Macarons
by Hisako Ogita

The Hamburger
by Josh Ozersky

Best Food Writing 2009 edited
by Holly Hughes

by Archestratos

Eat, Memory edited by Amanda Hesser

Eat My Globe
by Simon Majumdar

by Jason Epstein

What We Eat When We Eat Alone
by Deborah Madison

The Sweet Life
in Paris

by David Lebovitz

Modern Spice
by Monica Bhide


REVIEW by Meganne Fabrega

Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef
by Gabrielle Hamilton
Random House, March 2011
Hardcover 304 pp., ISBN: 978-1400068722

I ate dinner with Gabrielle Hamilton last night. She served me fresh zucchini flowers that she bought from a toothless farmer whose pants were tied up with a ratty piece of twine. She poured me glass after glass of wine as she told me about her “salad days” in New York City, a not-so-romantic solo European trip in her late teens that opened her eyes and her palate to the beauty of food, and the day-to-day exhaustion and exhilaration of pursuing her passion while being a mother, wife, sister, daughter, writer, business owner, and all-around responsible adult. I laughed at her snarky comments about the proliferation of “food allergies” and her brief stint at Hampshire College (my alma mater). And I secretly envied her bravery to live a life so full, and her ability to talk about it with such candor. While we finished the meal, taking an “unconditional pleasure in food and eating” that Hamilton learned from her French mother, and now serves up in her restaurant, Prune, I felt lucky to spend time with someone who can put it all out there without sounding like a stereotypical arrogant chef.

Okay, so I didn’t actually eat with Gabrielle Hamilton, but her writing style is so descriptive, so familiar, that you can’t help but be immediately pulled in to her world of inadvertent adventures and the messy business of a life spent at full throttle. The illusion that she is right next to you, that you are her guest and she is entertaining you, brings her memoir vibrantly to life.

Blood, Bones & Butter begins with her childhood of growing up in an idyllic bohemia, her stylish mother trotting off to the local farmer’s in her suede heels to get fresh milk while their father constructed huge sets for theater productions and the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey circus. “There was no ‘artisanal’ at this point,” Hamilton writes, “no ‘organic’ or ‘diver-picked’ or ‘free-range’ or ‘heirloom’ anything.” Her mother cooked for Hamilton’s large family with what little she could afford from her husband’s meager income, but she did it with French savoir-faire and her trusty burnt-orange Le Creuset pots.

By the time she was twelve Hamilton’s family had disbanded, her parents divorced, and most of her four siblings were out on their own. Left to her own devices, Hamilton made her way through the restaurants of nearby towns, earning her way as a runner, salad girl, hot line cook, lying about her age, her home life, and experience to get a paycheck. She decided early on, “If I pay my own way, I go my own way.” Hamilton’s path was anything but straight, and included several colleges, a graduate program in creative writing, countless restaurant jobs, and freelance catering gigs in New York City that would make you think twice about nibbling that canapé at your next Hamptons cocktail party. It was a simple act of going out to move her car that put Hamilton at the right place at the right time, where she found the perfect space for the restaurant that she didn’t even know she wanted to open until she was there, standing in the filth of an abandoned space, writing the menu for Prune in her head.

What I loved about Blood, Bones & Butter is that its tone is humble yet experienced, raw and honest in a way that you are with your closest friends late at night after a couple of bottles of wine and you’re all just trying to figure out how the hell you got where you are. With her memoir Hamilton has invited us to her table, and served us an unforgettable meal.

January 20, 2011