Ugh, I’m sad to see such a fantastic four-day weekend come to a close, but honestly… I started off this weekend with a GIANT to-do list, and I feel really good about the amount of stuff I was able to cross off my list. I also oddly fell into a routine of staying up late and sleeping in (which I never do), so it felt like an entirely different universe around Casa de Blanche.
But, speaking of Blanche, there was still plenty of time to read! Let’s discuss the latest read from Blanche’s Book Club: “Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef” by Gabrielle Hamilton.
I am SO late to the game reading this book – I got it last year for Christmas! One thing about reading so many library books is that I read books as they are ready for pickup and I hardly ever touch the stash I have at my apartment. #BookwormProbs
But, better late than never! This book has been on my shortlist because part of the description says, “she spent twenty hard-living years trying to find purpose and meaning in her life.”
This resonated with me, and I’ll admit I have been carrying this book around with me since I went to Marfa, Texas, in June, thinking maybe I’d have the chance to open it.
Before I go any further, here’s the book’s description from Amazon:
Before Gabrielle Hamilton opened her acclaimed New York restaurant Prune, she spent twenty hard-living years trying to find purpose and meaning in her life. 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; 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 prickly marriage that nonetheless yields lasting dividends. By turns epic and intimate, Gabrielle Hamilton’s story is told with uncommon honesty, grit, humor, and passion.
This book combined so many things I love reading about: true stories, food and restaurant life, and bouts with drugs and alcohol. I’m a real class-act, huh?
Truly, though, this is a story of someone making their own way, and even today, there aren’t many women working as chefs. The food industry is still very much dominated by men, and Gabrielle explains her struggles with that in this book.
I wrote down so many passages from the book, and I want to share some with you here:
“We were giddy, Shaun and I, to have our hands in stinky Vietnamese fish sauce for the vegetarian spring rolls, which we packed with cilantro and jicama and carrots and cucumbers. The four kitchen helpers were maybe not so enthused to be pulling the beards out of and scrubbing twenty pounds of mussels for the chilled mussels on the half shell with vinaigrette, but if working in a kitchen was something they all had wanted to ‘check out’, this was a perfect introduction.”
“In spite of my efforts to be rational, the birds and the sunshine were in concert outside, as if egging me on, and while I told myself over and over that I couldn’t possibly open a restaurant in New York City, the most critical and sophisticated place on earth where I would be eaten alive by some restaurant reviewer within the first fifteen minutes of unlocking the doors, I nonetheless merrily pulled out all of my wooden salad bowls and wooden cutting boards and wondered if it would be a health code violation to use them in my restaurant instead of the heavy white plastic ones.”
As the book’s description says, Gabrielle did end up opening a restaurant in New York City – Prune – and she earned a James Beard Award (one of the greatest honors for a chef), and this book also won a James Beard Award for Writing – which I didn’t even know existed!
Now’s a really good time to mention that I’ll be dining at Prune during my upcoming trip to New York City! This book is my first opportunity to really immerse myself in some of the adventures I’ll be embarking on in about a week, and of course, I’ll be ready to document it all right here (and on Instagram)!
The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” by Jenny Han.
In the coming week, prepare to see lots of New York City plans, along with more book and movie reviews, and more gift guides! Thanks for stopping by, and enjoy your Sunday 🙂