Gabrielle Hamilton: Lesbian Almost-Felon With Questionable Chicken-Killing Skills?
We're pretty sure she didn't steal those tomatoes...
Photo by Melissa Hamilton
Yesterday we posted Part 1 of our chat with chef/restaurateur/author Gabrielle Hamilton, but perhaps you didn't get a feel for what a badass she really is and how she came to be that way. So today we'll just give you some good sound bites from our interview and some clips from her book, Blood, Bones & Butter.
Her first chicken-killing experience: "I was still holding its feet with one hand and trying to cut its head off with the dull hatchet with my other when both the chicken and my father became quite lucid, and not a little agitated. The chicken began to thrash about as if chastising me for my false promises of a merciful death... I kept coming down on the bird's throat -- which was now broken but still issuing terrible clucks of revolt and protest -- stroke after miserable stroke, until I finally got its head off. I was blubbering through clenched teeth."
On writing her memoir: "In hindsight, it was kind of absurd and insane. I didn't sleep more than four hours a night and probably not consecutively. I had blisters on my eyeballs from the fatigue. I was shrill and shrieky, I broke furniture."
On why there are no recipes in her book: "Completely intentional. I wanted it to succeed in its genre. I thought adding recipes was a woozy way to hedge your bets against poor writing."
Recalling how, despite being lesbian, she ended up married to a man: "To pull off an illicit affair within the hours of 2 a.m. and 8 a.m. while living with your girlfriend is not an easy undertaking... Nobody, not even an erstwhile lesbian enjoying her midnight liaison with an Italian, wants to get married for pragmatic reasons."
Calling out moms for giving their kids food issues: "They had clearly developed 'allergies,' I believe, to foods they had seen their own mothers fearing and loathing as diet fads passed thorough their homes. I could've strangled their mothers for saddling these girls with the idea that food is an enemy -- some of them only 8 years old and already weird about wanting a piece of bread -- and I would've liked to bludgeon them, too, for forcing me to participate in their young daughters' fucked-up relationship with food."
Her first attempt at college and waitressing, foiled by the threat of grand larceny charges at 17 (eliminated by a savvy lawyer): "I never made it to the end of my first semester. I couldn't get to morning classes after what I'd done the night before. I took home more than ninety thousand dollars that year and spent most of it on drugs."
On who will play her in the (undoubtedly upcoming) movie version of the book: "Robert Downey Jr., of course. He's had the same... trajectory."
Follow Short Order on Facebook and Twitter @Short_Order.
Get the Dining Newsletter
The week's top local food news and events, plus interviews with chefs and restaurant owners, dining tips, and a peek at our print review.