On Leaving Your Edges Rough

I just saw this and feel compelled to share:

If you have not already read this woman's book, I would suggest that you do. That being said, allow me to be kind of a bitch for second: Gabrielle Hamilton is not a very nice person.

Or at least, that's what her book, Blood, Bones & Butter would lead you to believe. I had the pleasure of reading this book before it came out, because I have a friend who is fancy and gets things like this in advance. But, it's taken me this long to digest my feelings about it, because they are complex and kind of bristly. For one thing, every chef on the planet seemed to come out in support of this book, most notably Anthony Bourdain, who called it "simply the best memoir by a chef ever." I mean. This man is hardly prone to compliments, much less full-on, wobbly-kneed, googly-eyed, mouth-breathingly hyperbolic praise of others in the snarky chef/writer business. So, understandably, I had pretty high expectations.

via bloodbonesandbutter.net

Hamilton is as gifted a writer as she is a chef. The fact is, however, that she's also incredibly honest and doesn't, as many memoir authors do, come off looking very sparkly in the end. By the end of the book, I was surprised that I didn't have too many warm, fuzzy feelings (aside from some passages about the layout of her mother's pantry, I'll admit to getting a little wistful there). She paints a portrait of herself as impatient, exhausted, indecisive, demanding and of generally low blood sugar. As my thoughts on this book have evolved, I've decided that it takes a much better, more thoughtful writer to make your reader sort of dislike you, but still completely identify with you. Most memoirists would smooth out their rough edges for mass publication, where Hamilton has laid them all out for us to dissect. And, as with her interview above, I've started to think we should all sort of take a page out of this book and chuck balance out the window.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I might do as she's done and open a wildly popular restaurant with no formal culinary education, business education or financial backing to do so. Because apparently, it can be done with aplomb.


  1. Consider it noted. I'll be on drinks.

  2. I'll be the curmudgeon in the corner.

  3. Ha! When are you not? (This actually applies to both your comments.)

  4. Wait, am I the fancy friend? Ahaha.

  5. @youthlarge - Heh. Yes.

    @thepeoplescortney - I mean, shouldn't we just do it?

  6. She's a dick, Bourdain's a dick, they are all dicks. I'm just happy to read kitchen related memoirs by people who can write. I loved reading this book. But yeah, how the fuck do you open up a tin of sardines and box of Triscuits and win a James Beard award, not that I hold the JBAs with any regard. That said, her kitchen does magic with king trumpet mushrooms.