LC Book Club: Blood, Bones & Butter

Blood, Bones, & Butter

Click here to join the discussion below.

Pull up a chair. Grab yourself a knife, a fork, and a—book? Yes! At Leite’s Culinaria, we aim to feed not just your body but also your mind, spirit, and sense of community. That’s why we’re launching the new online LC Book Club. Think of it as having a “Literary Lunch Break” with friends, rather than all by your lonesome. The first title for the Book Club? Gabrielle Hamilton’s much-hyped memoir, Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef (Random House, 2011).

Our Book Club discussion will take place starting Saturday, April 23, 2011, so you’ve got plenty of time to start reading. We’ll host the conversation over on our Twitter stream @LeitesCulinaria, using the hashtag #LCBookClub to unite readers in what we’re sure will be a spirited conversation about Hamilton’s memoir.

Of course, we’ll also field comments here, for those who either don’t have a Twitter account, or who would like to discuss the book in thoughts longer than 140 characters. If you plan on participating in the book club (here or on Twitter), or if you have thoughts to share about the Book Club in general, please take a moment to introduce yourself in the comments section below—we’d love to hear from you.

Finally: Participation counts. We’re happy to announce that a $100 certificate toward a meal at Prune, Hamilton’s NYC restaurant, will be given away at the end to one lucky (and active) participant; it’s our way of saying “Welcome to the (Book) Club!”

About Blood, Bones & Butter:

Not only did Hamilton’s sharply observed memoir earn a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly, but Anthony Bourdain has gone on record saying that Blood, Bones & Butter “is, quite simply, the far-and-away best chef or food-genre memoir…ever. EVER,” and that it “kicked the hell out of my Kitchen Confidential.”

Enchanted and strange, inspiring and tough-as-nails, the book reveals Hamilton’s unconventional journey from being a somewhat lawless adolescent child of divorce in rural Pennsylvania to her opening of Prune, the incredibly successful restaurant she established in 1999 in New York City’s East Village.

In Blood, Bones & Butter, you’ll meet a French mother who cooked “tails, claws, and marrow-filled bones” in high heels, a father who built sets for the circus, and then follow Hamilton’s own various incarnations as waitress, freelance caterer, camp cook, graduate student, and restaurant entrepreneur. All with tightly crafted prose, the heat of the kitchen, and more than a pinch of emotional honesty.

Entertaining? Yes. But also food for deeper thought. We hope you’ll join our Book Club on April 23 and share your views of Hamilton’s memoir.

In the meantime, if you’re hungry for more, chow down on Gabrielle’s Brown Butter Pasta recipe or take a look at these Literary Lunch Break writings:


  1. *** ANNOUNCEMENT ***

    We’d like to congratulate @mmarksshih for winning our $100 gift certificate toward a meal at Gabrielle Hamilton’s restaurant, PRUNE.

    Of course we’d also like to stress that in our view, when we get together to share ideas and opinions (sometimes kindred, sometimes dissenting) about the books we read, well, we’re clearly all winners.

    Each and every person who picked up a copy of Gabrielle Hamilton’s book, read along with us, left a comment here and/or on Twitter, enriched the experience.

    Please keep watch in this “Literary Lunch Break” space for the announcement of our next book pick. We’ll reveal the next title on Friday, May 6.

    Meanwhile, please feel free to keep commenting on this post if you have more thoughts to share about Blood, Bones & Butter.

  2. Hello, everyone! Our first book club discussion—Blood, Bones & Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton—is now officially open. We are holding a real-time conversation over on Twitter, with the hashtag #LCBookClub, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. EST today. Of course, you may continue to leave your comments here. As an opener, we’d love to hear what struck you most about the book.

    Also, if you haven’t seen it yet, you might find Gabrielle Hamilton’s article in the May issue of Bon Appetit a very interesting epilogue: Blood, Bones & Baked Eggplant (Thanks to book clubber @mmarksshih for the link!)

    1. Was a great, entertaining read. Some parts seem a bit far-fetched to me, however. For example, GH phoning up her OB/GYN to schedule a more “convenient” date for induced labor via petocin drip because of unanticipated staffing issues??? I’m guessing that OB/GYN has bullet-proof malpractice insurance. Anyone else find this an unlikely scenario? Other examples?

      1. Elaine, thanks for chiming in. So glad that you enjoyed reading the book! About the labor induction… maybe it’s a New York City thing. I didn’t blink an eye at it, because although I admit it sounds totally crazy and it’s not a choice I would ever make, I do know quite a few people who have scheduled labor around various work-related concerns. So I took this as a given.

        What I thought interesting, and I know it’s come up in some conversations around here somewhere, are the little fissures that threaten any memoirist’s task: that is, are things as we remember them, when it concerns our childhoods especially. There were some questions that arose among the Hamilton siblings, about where everyone was that fatal summer that the family dissolved. The hardest part for me to imagine (though I don’t disbelieve, either) was how GH could have been essentially abandoned to such an extent at that young age, left to fend for herself more or less.

        And this abandonment clearly drives so much of the book, the journey, the reason why the act of being fed and feeding others is so important in GH’s life.

        I’d love to hear about whether people think that GH, as the protagonist of the book (forget that it’s her real life for a moment), changed enough or came to significant enough realizations to create the payoff we would expect from, say, a character in a novel…?

  3. Hi Allison,

    Nice to see you again, after the Key West Literary Festival!
    I’m really excited about this idea. I’m on chapter 3 and it’s really hard to put down. Forgive me, I haven’t read the whole comments thread yet. Are we tweeting along as we read, starting Saturday or will we be talking about the whole book? Cool if it’s just something more amorphous. One thing I miss about being in school is sharing with others about what we are reading together.
    I am in Miami still, freelance writing and doing public radio, and also working at an elementary school, part time. Grabbing any spare moment to read this book, though!

    1. Hey, hello. So glad to see you here. You have no idea how many times in the past few months I’ve wished to be back in Key West! Well, maybe you can imagine. And I have thought about that time often while reading Blood, Bones & Butter, too—because of the great excerpt read aloud by Ruth R.

      The idea is that on Saturday, we will start discussing the book. Many (most?) people will have finished, so all parts of the book are fair game for discussion. Which means there could be “spoilers” if you haven’t read all the way through. But I hate that term, really, because a good book is never spoiled, even if you know all the best scenes and/or the outcome in advance.

      Glad to hear you’re finding time to read in addition to everything else, and hope to chat with you Saturday.

  4. I think Blood Bones & Butter would be very interesting to read. I used to butcher my own meat and I made Butter. I would like to learn to cook the food that I used to grow.

    1. Sue, I hope you do read this memoir and join in our conversation. It would be great to have your insights.

Have something to say?

Then tell us. Have a picture you'd like to add to your comment? Attach it below. And as always, please take a gander at our comment policy before posting.

Upload a picture of your dish