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Ingesting 'Blood, Bones
March 23, 2011 - 8:45pm

People who work with information, folks like you and me, are constantly in danger of becoming obsessed with jobs that involve working with things. The reason I love chef books is that the job seems so tangible. You work with your hands and your brain to create something, a product that can be tasted.

Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef, by Gabrielle Hamilton, is not the typical chef, restaurant or food book. With Hamilton, food is always a metaphor for relationships (usually screwed up).

If you are like me, you probably started with Kitchen Confidential, maybe moved on to Heat, took a detour with Waiter Rant, and now too often find yourself absorbed in food porn on the Food Network.

I'll most likely never eat at Hamilton's NYC restaurant, Prune (her childhood nickname from a now estranged mother). Prune's food sounds delicious, the anti-foodie culture refreshing, but I doubt I'm hip enough or knowledgeable enough about food to appreciate her cooking.

Reading Blood, Bones & Butter is as close as I'll get to Hamilton's cooking, and the sensual experience that I imagine Prune provides. This is a book about how a person with deep relationship issues, issues with roots is a dysfunctional and then broken family, can simultaneously succeed gloriously (in both cooking/restauranteering and writing), and fail spectacularly (at creating a marriage). Hamilton is ballsy enough to provide us something of an unvarnished glimpse into the most brutal and ugly aspects of dining out (particularly catering food), and marriage.

Blood, Bones & Butter will be polarizing. Some readers will love it (I did), some will find Hamilton so unappealing as a personality that the book will leave a bad aftertaste. Some people will feel both at once. Whatever the verdict, I think everyone will agree that Hamilton can flat-out write.

Read Blood, Bones & Butter, and tell us how it goes down for you.

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