Tuesday, April 5, 2011

This Is How We Live and Eat - a Blood, Bones and Butter Review

I heard this book reviewed on the New York Times podcast, and then my friend Nino told me I needed to read it immediately. I followed her advice. I loved this book. I want to crawl inside parts of this book and live there. Which is odd, because it's not always a particularly uplifting book. There is something about the way Gabrielle Hamilton describes everything, food, hard work, her relationships, mothering - that makes me want to take up arms and dedicate myself to the cause. Which cause? I'm not even sure, all of them. This makes me want to eat better, it makes me want to cook better, and it makes me want to take care of people better - to build a small space where I could invite the people I love to come, and to eat and to be cared for. I love her descriptions of traveling in foreign countries, and of the people who took her in and fed her. Also I'm totally with her on comfort foods. I don't understand people who eat with only the blandest interest in all the world has to offer. Or as she puts it: "This is the crepe. This is the cider. This is how we live and eat.

The other thing she highlights is something I began to realize in earnest after college. There are people who when things go wrong will simply throw up their hands. Happily leave the hard work to someone else, go back to sitting at their desk and putting their feet up. The people who have no desire to problem solve. Who will refuse to help move boxes or shovel the driveway. There was this guy in Syracuse talking about his long term girlfriend and a really bad snow storm we had that lasted several days. She said she would not help him do the shoveling. Because it was hard and cold. And she would prefer to sit inside while he did the hard work, the bones of the thing. I almost told him that would be a deal breaking quality for me in a potential life mate and I'm not sure why it wasn't with him. And so I've realized I am not one of those people. I am the person that rolls up my sleeves and helps with the hard stuff. Or in other words:

"But at thirty-eight years old, hugely pregnant with my future tiny son, I don't want anything to do with badass. I want to be J. Crew catalog-clean. I don't want to be that woman who can-and did-get down on all fours and scrape pancake batter off the over door after having just cooked three hundred eggs with a near-constant monologue of fucking fuck of a fuck issuing from her lips. That disgusts me. While I would never want or hope to be the type of pregnant woman who would doze languidly in the afternoons while playing Mozart tapes to her womb, being down on the mats with a soapy green scrubby and rattling my unborn fetus with a string of expletives to make a trucker blush...well, that is certainly not the woman I want to be either.

When you are the one throwing the party every night, emptying the ashtrays, making sure the tonic is cold, the limes fresh, the shifts covered, the meat perfectly cooked and adequately rested, the customer's carefree and employees calm and confident, it will leave its marks. Someone has to stay in the kitchen and do the bones of the thing, to make sure it stands up, and if it's you, so be it." (pg 197)

The only other question - who's coming with me to Prune and when are we going?

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