Megan's shelf a couple of weeks ago, and she immediately forced it upon me, promising I would not be disappointed. Obviously, she was right.
BB&B tells the winding tale of Gabrielle Hamilton's path to becoming a chef, restaurant owner, wife, and mother. Her life has all the classically awesome elements of a best-selling memoir - insane parents, a wild childhood, lapsed lesbianism, an affinity for shoplifting, and of course, multiple brushes with the law. Her story is disjointed, with ample time spent on her early years, and a mad rush through her twenties. Throughout the book, years are compacted and single events stretched out into whines like an abused accordion. But somehow, it works. Hamilton is somehow easy to relate to, despite often making decisions (even in her adult life) that I could never imagine. She sweeps you in to loving what she loves, craving her food and lifestyle, and does it with a refreshingly realistic view regarding the obnoxious foodie trend that she's inadvertently become a part of. But the most honest, difficult part of BB&B (for this reader, anyway) was recognizing Hamilton's discomfort with the identity foisted upon her: female chef. She writes about her difficulty relating to women who want to celebrate their lady-ness in the kitchen, to preach girl power and the triumph of women, and struggles with how to boil down her philosophy so that the question of how to be wife/mother/business owner/chef is no longer answered with a cheery cliche, but is examined and really felt and earned through, well, blood, bones, and butter. And she never figures it out. Hamilton lays out her memoir with answers, but not The Answers, and I love that. Read it.