Today, I am going to share with you two books by an author you might know – Ruth Reichl. Ruth Reichl is know for being a restaurant critic for Los Angeles Times and the New York Times papers, as well as the food editor at Los Angeles Times. She also served as the editor of Gourmet magazine for quite some time. In addition, she has written several memoirs. I want to share two of those with you today.
Tender At The Bone
Tender At The Bone is Mrs. Reichl’s memoirs of her youth. It tells her story of growing up, the challenges that she faced with her mother’s mental illness issues (which they didn’t realize as such until much later) and her father’s struggles to deal with the ups and downs of their life. As an only child, Ruth had a lot of expectations on her shoulders.
There are many humorous accounts that she shares about her mother’s cooking. Her mother was brave about cooking, in a very scary way – she liked to save money and more than once, Ruth shares about her mom buying leftovers from places several days ahead of a party and saving them to serve. Ruth tells about how she tried to save people’s live -she felt that very honestly – by warning them about her mother’s food.
At the same time, she had a very developed understanding of food and how flavors went together. She enjoyed learning how to cook and what things other folks cooked. She just understood food. And this book shows us a peek inside how that affected her life.
There are some scenes and a bit of language. They are easy to move on past and the stories are fun to read. I really enjoyed the stories she shared and I hope to tackle a few of the recipes sometime.
Garlic And Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise
This is the story of Ruth’s work at the New York Times as a restaurant critic. You are in for quite the humorous tales here. You see, as Ruth was on the airplane heading to New York and her new job, she finds out that there is basically a bounty on her head – many restaurants are offering their employees bonuses for recognizing Ruth when she visits their restaurants so they can make sure she gets good food and service. Well, this just sets Ruth on an adventure of creating alternate personas and figuring out how to visit restaurants in disguise so she can see how they really are.
We get to meet several of her “people” from her disguises and go along on the adventures when she visits the restaurants. It is fun to read about what she remembers (she took good notes on every adventures and visit) and how the true service and food was. I loved reading about her disguise as a much older lady who did not get treated well or get good food. The friend that she took with her brought her own friend and the three of them went to the restaurant. There, the disguised Ruth was not treated well and the friend-of-the-friend could not stand it. It is quite a funny story to read.
I also loved reading about the wig person she got involved in helping her. They worked together with a friend who had worked in make-up to create her disguises and the attitudes with which she created her characters. It is a lot of fun.
I really enjoyed reading some of her actual reviews, also, which are included in the book. Her little boy sounds like he had a lot of fun with his mom’s adventures, too.
If you do a search for Ruth’s name, you’ll find additional memoirs and books that she has written. One of those is a fictionalized account of her time at Gourmet magazine. It was also a really fun read and it is called Delicious!
I’d enjoy hearing about any books you would recommend. Just leave me a note in the comments.
Lori, At Home.