Blood, Bones & Butter Review With a Negroni!

We at Cook the Books Club are closing out this segment with our latest book selection, Blood, Bones & Butter, a memoir by Gabrielle Hamilton, and I'm just getting my post in under the wire.  I loved this book, found it a truly enjoyable read!  There's an old saying, "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen" and does it ever apply here. Gabrielle not only stands it, she actually revels in it, the overwhelming, awesome heat of a small restaurant kitchen with 10 burners going.  She says: "I am the only one I know who likes it.....I feel like we are two small-time boxers---me and the heat---meeting in the center of the ring to tap gloves..."

Though I hadn't thought about heat too much in terms of restaurant work,  I do know that my own little kitchen often heats up beyond my tolerance and I just have to get out.  Go sit in front of a fan on the deck until I'm cooled down enough.  Not possible for anyone on a restaurant job.

What a trip! Gabrielle carries us along with her, from the beginning of her interest and contact with food prep, watching her French mother,  through years of camp cooking and catering, to the opening of her own unique little restaurant in New York City.   Her stint with various catering companies would certainly put one off ordering from them, by the way.  "The Inadvertent Education" adventures are narrated in a writing style that kept my interest to the end.   She is a truly talented, evocative raconteur and cook, her MFA in fiction writing clearly shows. 

From the Publishers:
"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."
No recipes were given, though Hamilton did trigger our interest with some intriguing ideas: grilled, butterflied lobster, basted with smoked paprika butter, rye cracker omelette with fried duck skin, rabbit legs in vinegar sauce and of course, her mother-in-law, Alda's eggplant. However, I've reserved her cookbook, Prune, and am looking forward to eating that up.

There was also a drink mentioned frequently, in various places throughout the book, a Negroni, for which Hamilton does give a recipe.  She says: "The negroni is a short and perfect aperitivo made of equal parts bitter Campari, sweet vermouth, and floral gin over a couple of ice cubes with a small slice of fresh orange dropped in it to release its oils.  That perfectly Italian presence, which sparks your appetite and brightens your mood, holds in balance the sweet and the bitter, which I can't help but think of metaphorically, as the relationship with the non threatening Italian..."  Echoing as it does the sweet, the bitter and the sadness of their marriage.

I made mine with Bruto Americano instead of the Italian Compari, a nice switch-out, as this newer model Amaro has a great flavor profile! It’s very bitter (primarily from gentian root), and slightly citrusy from California Seville oranges and woodsy from balsam fir and buckthorn bark.

There you have it, my inspiration derived from our reading.  I enjoyed this little apertivo, and will probably make it on occasion in future, though mixed drinks don't frequently feature around here.  More usually it's wine with dinner.

I'm sharing this post over at Beth Fish Reads for her Weekend Cooking event, at Heather's Foodies Read Challenge, as well as at Cook the Books Club, of course.  Be sure to visit and see what everyone else is contributing and cooking. Caio!

 P.S. - Just got Prune, and OMG!  Love the heft and challenge of this book.  So much cooking inspiration, good ideas/recipes.  We can clearly see  how the experiences narrated in our book selection informed and contributed to her unique and very individual vision for Prune, the restaurant.


Debra Eliotseats said...

Great review, Claudia, and a spectacular looking cocktail. I like your take on the classic Negroni.

Simona Carini said...

Totally with you on the assessment of catering companies. I had never thought of the fact that the hosts' choices are made based on a small amount prepared especially for them and then the same dishes are prepared in industrial quantities, transported and reheated before being served. Nice choice of recipe: I like your take on the Negroni. Thank you for your contribution to this edition of Cook the Books. I am glad you enjoyed the book :)

A Day in the Life on the Farm said...

She had a way of making you feel like you were standing right next to her the entire time.

Tina said...

Ive never had a negroni but I do like gin. That’s something to rectify.
I liked this book!

Mae Travels said...

Everyone who has reviewed this book for "Cook the Books" has had a slightly different way to look at it, and I've enjoyed every one that I have read, especially the food choices, and in your case the drink choice. Wow! What a great event you have had. As I've said, my culinary reading group read the book a few years ago, but I actually liked her better on the TV series.

best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

Beth F said...

Ohhh this sounds like a great drink. As I said on Deb's post, I've just recently downloaded the book from the library. I'm hoping to read it before it expires. Humm, just had a thought. I wonder if it's available in audio.

Carole said...

Not my kind of title. Cheers

Literature and Limes said...

I love a good cocktails. Great takeway from the book!

(Diane) bookchickdi said...

We're going to Italy soon and I'm sure we'll be drinking some Negronis.

Delaware Girl Eats said...

I just love cocktails and this one sounds elegant

Lezeto Media said...

If you are a fan of Italian cocktails, then you have probably heard of the name Negroni. It’s one of the finest and most popular Italian Cocktails out there. It’s delicious and a pure class in itself.

Read More -: Negroni Recipe: How to Make Negroni