The Lessons of Hunger

“…. When I came to be actually holding the keys to my new restaurant, wondering what credentials I possibly possessed for owning and operating such a place, I counted knowing hunger and appetite as one of them. It became such a recurring experience during this period when I was twenty–to be starving and afraid of running out of money–as I wandered from Brussels to Burma and everywhere in between for months on end, that I later came to see it as a part of my training as a cook. I came to see hunger as being as important a part of a stage as knife skills. Because so much starving on that trip led to such an enormous amount of time fantasizing about food, each craving became fanatically particular. Hunger was not general, ever, for just something, anything to eat. My hunger grew so specific I could name every corner and fold of it. Salty, warm, brothy, starchy, fatty, sweet, clean and crunchy, crisp and watery, and so on.

“This kind of travel, so distinctly prior to ATMs, debit cards, cash advance credit cards, cell phones, Facebook, and international SIM cards is probably not even possible now. And it isn’t right to romanticize it; you, with a feathery mind and a too light body, sitting on your heavy pack without a penny of local currency, down to your last two hundred sixty dollars in traveler’s checks, with not one person on earth able to locate you on a map in any more than the most general terms…

“To be picked up and fed, often by strangers, when you are in that state of fear and hunger, became the single most important and convincing food experience I came back to over and over….”

Hamilton, Gabrielle. BLOOD, BONES AND BUTTER: THE INADVERTENT EDUCATION OF A RESTAURANT CHEF. New York: Random House, 2011. Print. 129-30.

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