Julia Child is already so familiar to many cooks and would-be cooks that it’s hard to imagine why anyone would want to spend time wading through a 500-page biography of her. But with Dearie (Knopf, $29.95)— Child’s term for most everyone—Bob Spitz has succeeded in producing an entertaining and intimate portrait that captures the charm, quirkiness, and innate culinary talent that made Child (and her wine-drinking) so popular in her heyday and even today. You don’t have to be a devotee of the old The French Chef television series or have a dog-eared copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking in your kitchen to enjoy this thorough, and highly readable, account of the woman who revolutionized the way Americans think about home cooking.
Gabrielle Hamilton gives an uncensored, rather brutal, look behind the closed kitchen doors of the life of a restaurant chef. It is, at times, both heart-achingly sad and wickedly funny. Despite Hamilton’s short temper and acid tongue, I found myself cheering her on, pulling for her success. Or maybe it is exactly this candidness in her own portrayal of herself that is so comforting. Either way, Blood, Bones & Butter is a fast-paced, enthralling read, and a must for anyone who has ever dreamt of opening a restaurant.