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Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef    by Gabrielle Hamilton Amazon.com order for
Blood, Bones & Butter
by Gabrielle Hamilton
Order:  USA  Can
Random House, 2011 (2011)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Chef Gabrielle Hamilton's early life started off as though the good times would never end. Her wonderful memories of the lamb roasts her father would host sound idyllic. Her family (five children and their parents) lived in a burned-out silk mill in rural Pennsylvania surrounded by land and a stream to give the children plenty of space to roam.

And roam Hamilton did. Her parents divorced and Mama moved away. As pre-adolescents, she and a brother were left alone in the house for a whole summer. Not of an age to have accumulated much wisdom about living, she went off the deep end as though trouble were her middle name 'hastily grazing through the menu of adult behavior.' Shoplifting, smoking, drugs, stealing from her employer, as well as facing hunger. She remembers kind, caring people who gave her food when she couldn't have been more down and out.

By a circuitous route, Gabrielle opened her celebrated and hard-to-get-a-table restaurant Prune in the East Village of New York City. But not before much world travel, hard work at odd jobs, and inadvertently picking up knowledge about foods ethnic as well as the unusual.

An unlikely marriage to an Italian threatened with deportation produced two children and visits to her husband's family in Italy for a number of summers, enlarging her repertoire of Italian cooking as well as allowing her to enjoy being a member of a family. The simplicity of the meals and the gathering of the family around the communal table strengthened her work ethic to produce the kind of foods she would want to eat herself.

In Blood, Bones, & Butter, Gabrielle unashamedly tells the story of the ups and downs in her life. Her opening what became an extremely popular must-go-to restaurant is slight payment for the slap-dash upbringing she had and proof that if you want something badly enough and are willing to work hard for it, it can be done. This book is beautifully written, telling Gabrielle's story unabashedly. Moving, provocative, edgy a lovely memoir. Gabrielle is a multi-tasker and successful at her chosen fields.

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