Reichl is a gifted memoirist, and writes an engrossing account of her experiences as the food critic for the New York Times. I love the idea of being a food critic (there are too many foods that I don’t like for me to really be one. Unless you could just be a dessert critic, in which case I could probably pull that off despite my loathing of bread pudding.)
Where was I? Oh, yes, admitting to my fascination of what all is involved with being a food critic, and wishing I could tag along with Reichl for some of her meals.
Except for the minor detail of not actually getting to taste any of the meals described, reading her memoir is the next best thing to a seat at the table. She brings it all to life vividly, and makes me hope that she’ll write memoir #4 about her life after leaving the New York Times in 1999. Editor of Gourmet (until it sadly ceased publication), lots of TV shows and appearances; surely there’s some great material for another book. At least I’m hoping…
Ruth Reichl, world-renowned food critic and editor in chief of Gourmet magazine, knows a thing or two about food. She also knows that as the most important food critic in the country, you need to be anonymous when reviewing some of the most high-profile establishments in the biggest restaurant town in the world—a charge she took very seriously, taking on the guise of a series of eccentric personalities. In Garlic and Sapphires, Reichl reveals the comic absurdity, artifice, and excellence to be found in the sumptuously appointed stages of the epicurean world and gives us—along with some of her favorite recipes and reviews—her remarkable reflections on how one’s outer appearance can influence one’s inner character, expectations, and appetites, not to mention the quality of service one receives.
The hardest part was selecting which one of Reichl’s memoirs to highlight, but I settled on the last of the set. If you’re a stickler for reading things in order (or are confident that you’ll want to read all three), start with Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table and proceed on to Comfort Me with Apples: More Adventures at the Table before beginning Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise
If you want still more Reichl, she wrote her mother’s story in For You Mom, Finally (which was previous published as Not Becomming My Mother).
To see all the books featured in 31 Days of Great Nonfiction Reads, go to the series page.
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