When I played field hockey in high school, we had a t-shirt that said ‘luck is when preparation meets opportunity’. I still think about this sometimes today because while some people are just ‘lucky’ the majority of us have to work for what we want and make sure to go after it when it comes to us. When you are prepared with opinions, and life experiences, it makes it a whole lot easier to take advantage of the opportunites when they come.
I think Gabrielle Hamilton paints a lovely picture of this thought in her book Blood, Bones & Butter. It’s her memoir where she shares stories of her three families (childhood, restaurant/work and married into) that shaped and cultivated who she is and what she loves to do. Intwined with each family are her memories and experiences with food and how it is the base for so many of her relationships and has so greatly effected her life at different points in time, that when she finally was given the opportunity to open her own restaurant, she knew what would be on the menu before she even said yes.
It’s not just the restaurant she was prepared for it was how everything she’d done tied together. She couldn’t have had the restaurant with out her life experiences, family and food, but then she was more prepared to be a mother after owning her own restaurant, and she was able to write a memoir because all her childhood was spent with her nose in a journal. I have had an interesting month, but I like to think that it’s all just gearing my up for beter and brighter opportunities ahead – I’m getting prepared. They say when one door closes another opens (or at least a window) but I think it’s important to have prepared some wings so you can fly through when it’s there.
I read her book about a month before I went to New York, and upon reading that she had a restaurant (Prune) I knew I had to eat there. It’s the one reservation I made and I invited a couple SF friends to join in the fun. It was a hot rainy summer night and we had a table by the open wall of windows, in a delightful space seating no more than 40 people. I was so excited to see what would be on the menu, and sure enough there were influences from all over, which I felt I understood just a little bit better after reading her book. We started with stuffed squash blossoms, and jamon Serrano, which I followed up with a fantastic swordfish with a rich, creamy butter sauce and marscapone ice cream with salted caramel croutons to finish. The food was great, the company spectacular and the atmosphere nestling – the perfect combination. Not to mention I looked up at the end of the meal and saw Gabrielle Hamilton herself! I was a little star struck and was going to say hi, but she was on the phone when we left. Oh well, at least I’m prepared with some persepctive for my next opportunity to say hello…