You want Gabrielle Hamilton’s childhood to last forever. The extravagant, come-one-come-all lamb roasts that her artist father hosted in their converted New Hope silk mill; her ballerina mother’s way with a sharp knife and a young fowl; the dirt roads and the fresh, snappy peas: It’s as breathtaking as it is brief.
“Blood, Bones & Butter,” her new memoir, quickly moves on. There is a divorce to get to, an unstable adolescence, an addiction and then all of the other messy consequences of adulthood. But throughout it all — even in the midst of rather soulless catering gigs — there is a longing connection to the simplicity of her childhood meals, when carrots were modest about their “heirloom” lineage, when all eggs ranged free.
“I grew up with this style, for the short amount of time that I grew up, and then I got far away from it. I was making a living in food, in every way,” says Hamilton of the beginnings of what would turn out to be a successful career in the kitchen. “By the time I got to Prune, I wanted to get back to what I grew up with.”
And although Prune — a 30-odd seat restaurant in Manhattan — is indeed an elegant, intimate, acclaimed return to form, Hamilton doesn’t rule out going all the way back to her local roots. “I have this slightly juvenile fantasy that I can buy the house I grew up in and bring it back to life,” she admits. “I drove by it recently; it’s semi-abandoned, there were windows open in the rain. I wish someone would take care of it — and I have some fantasy that it could be me.”