The figurative language of Gabrielle Hamilton….

Reading time: Just over 1 minute

I like to share interesting pieces of figurative language I encounter in my reading. I write today about a series of images from chef and writer Gabrielle Hamilton…

I read a piece in the April 23/20 New York Times that knocked my socks off. Written by chef Gabrielle Hamilton (pictured above), the piece describes her decision to closer her restaurant (several hours before the shutdown came from the government.)

The story is heartbreaking and in it she offers knowledgable and interesting reflections on whether the restaurant industry is going to survive the pandemic.

But it was the skill of her writing — and her sophisticated use of figurative language — that struck me. (I had read her 2011 book Blood, Bones and Butter and hadn’t particularly liked it.)

  • For 10 days, everyone in my orbit had been tilting one way one hour, the other the next. Ten days of being waterboarded by the news, by tweets, by friends, by my waiters.
  • If I triaged the collected sales tax that was sitting in its own dedicated savings account and left unpaid the stack of vendor invoices, I could fully cover this one last week of payroll.
  • After a couple of weeks of watching the daily sales dwindle — a $12,141 Saturday to a $4,188 Monday to a $2,093 Thursday — it was a relief to decide to pull the parachute cord. 
  • After the meeting, there was some directionless shuffling.
  • As our staff left that night, we waved across the room to one another with a strange mixture of longing and eye-rolling, still in the self-conscious phase of having to act so distant from one another, all of us still so unaware of what was coming.
  • It turned out that abruptly closing a restaurant is a weeklong, full-time job.
  • I checked all the pilot lights and took out the garbage; I stopped swimming so hard against the mighty current and let it carry me out. 
  • Even after seven nights a week for two decades, I am still stopped in my tracks every time my bartenders snap those metal lids onto the cocktail shakers and start rattling the ice like maracas.