Our last book club book before our summer break was “Blood, Bones and Butter” by Gabrielle Hamilton.
BLOOD, BONES & BUTTER follows an unconventional journey of a real chef through the many kitchens she worked in 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; the soulless catering factories that helped pay the rent; Hamilton’s own kitchen at Prune (her restaurant in New York) 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 difficult and prickly marriage that nonetheless yields rich and lasting dividends.
Wendy then served a beautiful Italian luncheon outside on the patio – the perfect summer afternoon!
We started with spinach and cheese ravioli with crusty french bread….
And a divine salad with goat cheese, pears and an amazing dressing…
And then the most spectacular tangerine tart.
Oh my….reading books has so many rich rewards! Happy reading – the book club will be back again in September!
Excerpt from Chapter 1
We threw a party. The same party, every year, when I was a kid. It was a spring lamb roast and we roasted four or five whole little guys who only each weighed about forty pounds over an open fire and invited over a hundred people. Our house was in a rural part of Pennsylvania and was not really a house at all but still a domicile built into the burnt out ruins of an nineteenth century silk mill and our back yard was not a regular yard but a meandering meadow, with a creek running through it and wild geese living in it and a Death Slide cable that ran from high on an oak to the bank of the stream and deposited you, shrieking, into the shallow water. Our town shared a border so closely with New Jersey that we could and did walk back and forth between the two states several times in a day by crossing the Delaware River. On weekend mornings we had breakfast at Smutzie’s in Lambertville, on the Jersey side, but then we got gas for the car at Sam Williams’ Mobil on the New Hope side. In the afternoons after school on the Pennsylvania side, I walked over to the Jersey side and got guitar lessons at Les Parson’s guitar shop.
That part of the world, heavily touristed as it was, was an important location of many events in the American Revolutionary War. George Washington crossed the Delaware here in the victorious Battle of Trenton, trudged through the snowy woods and surprised the British in spite of some of his troops missing proper shoes, their feet instead wrapped in newspaper and burlap. But now my hometown has become, mostly, a sprawl of developments and subdivisions, gated communities of small mansions that look somewhat like movie sets which will be taken down at the end of the shoot. Each housing development has a “country” name—Squirrel Valley, Pine Ridge, Eagle Crossing, Deer Path—which has an unkind way of invoking and recalling the very things they demolished when building them. There is now a McDonalds and a K-Mart—but when I was growing up, you had to ride your bike about a mile down a very dark country road thick with night insects stinging your face to even find a plugged-in Coke machine where you could buy a vended soda for thirty five cents. Outside Cal’s Collision Repair in the middle of the night that machine glowed like something almost religious. You can now buy a Coke twenty-four hours a day at half a dozen places.
But when I was young, where I lived was mostly farmland, rolling fields, rushing creeks when it rained, thick woods, and hundred-year-old stone barns. It was a beautiful, rough but lush setting for the backyard party my parents threw with jug wine and spit-roasted lambs and glow-in–the-dark Frisbees. The creek dividing the meadow meandered and, at its deepest bend, was lined with small weeping willows that grew as we grew and bent their long, willowy, tearful branches down over the water. We would braid a bunch of the branches together to make a Tarzan kind of vine rope we could swing on, out over the stream in our laceless sneakers and bathing suits, and land in the creek. That is where we chilled all of the wines and beer and sodas for the party.
We were five kids in my family, and I am the youngest. We ran in a pack–to school, home from school, and after dinner at dusk—like wild dogs. If the Mellman kids were allowed out and the Bentley boys, the Drevers and the Shanks across the street as well, our pack numbered fifteen. We spent all of our time out of doors in mudsuits, snowsuits, or barefeet, depending on the weather. Even in “nature,” running around in the benign woods and hedges and streams, diving in and out of tall grasses and brambles, playing a nighttime game that involved dodging the oncoming headlights of an approaching occasional car, bombing the red shale rocks down into the stream from the narrow bridge near our driveway to watch them shatter—we found rough and not innocent pastimes. We trespassed, drag raced, smoked, burgled, and vandalized. We got ringworm, broken bones, tetanus, concussions, stitches, and ivy poisoning.