It’s been a long time since I have liked a book so much. And how ironic that I would finally find a relatable character in a famous chef. ME, who can barely brown hamburger, found myself relating to an uber successful NYC chef. This book is honest and well written. She describes her life as the youngest of 5 children as she and her siblings watch their parents divorce all the way through to becoming a successful business woman. She describes how she went down the “wrong path”, backpacked throughout Europe, studied writing at Michigan. She even got married to a man, even though she is a lesbian! Yet what I liked about the book the most is how well I related to her. Let me explain.
Initally I was skeptical about this oddly named book, but right away with the first line: “We threw a party. The same party every year when I was a kid”, she hooked me. Hey WE throw a party every year. Of course, we don’t roast four or five lambs over an open pit like HER family did. In fact, now that I think of it I truly don’t prepare ANY food, I simply call my friend David who caters it, but what the heck. We throw a party every year too!
She describes her relationship to her sister much like I would describe my relationship to my sisters. “I’m listening but I’m also working. The thing with Melissa and I is that I fully and completely and 100 percent comprehend what she is saying – to it’s fullest meaning – within the first fifteen seconds….I’m not saying I’m that smart. I’m saying I get her that well. We Two Are One.”
The sections that describes the way she manages her restaurant were perhaps the best in the book. I work at a large company and in order to not offend, I have to mind my words. Gabrielle is the boss and she doesn’t hold back on how she feels which was so fun to read! I would argue she says what many of us feel but would never dare to say. In one section she is describing some staffing challenges she is facing very late into her pregnancy. One of her chefs has quit and she is working when another enters the room and says that she too is quitting. Consider this paragraph: “The room came to a painful halt. I stood there and there was such a surge of stunned electricity in the room. Before I could stop myself, I burst out laughing and then said, as if it were just a mere fact, ‘You fucking suck so much.'”
Oh my, Gabrielle!
I finished the book this weekend. I was making breakfast this morning for the kids and feeling inspired to cook. As I was mixing up some Bisquick I decided to try a new technique; I threw an egg in the batter with a little flair of the wrist and then decided to heat the pan with some oil early. Hey, I am improvising, maybe this cooking thing isn’t so hard after all? I had been reading a section of the book near the end where Gabrielle was cooking for her family. She says, “I made uncomplicated food – roasted quail, boiled puntarelle, romanesco dressed in brown butter, shaved raw fennel, green cabbage with parmesan, things that would be tasty that I could produce in an hour.”
I was thinking about this passage and reflecting that I didn’t even know what most of that stuff even WAS, much less be able to ever cook it. And to be able to call it uncomplicated and cook it in an hour? NEVER!
My husband came into the kitchen, just as I was putting that egg in the batter with the flair. He looked at me, smiled and offered to take over at the stove. Graciously and thankfully, I handed him my spatula, grabbed my coffee, and finished the book.
Gabrielle and I will never cook together, but I loved her and would recommend this one!