Mmm… Food

Week 3: Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl
January 22, 2009, 3:12 pm
Filed under: Books


I zoomed through Garlic and Sapphiresby Ruth Reichl.  Three days on the train to and from work and I had polished off this fun book. Ruth Reichl is currently the Editor in Chief at Gourmet magazine joining the staff in 1999. What’s interesting then about this book, which details her time spent from 1993-1999 as the Restaurant Critic for the New York Times, is that it was published in 2005, after she had left the job behind. It’s interesting to get a hindsight account of her activities. As the books subtitle “The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise” tells us, the stories about her adventures in eating at and reviewing restaurants had her donning disguises to try and get a more “honest” tasting of the food and service at any given restaurant. Any time Ruth was spotted as herself she would be catered to. Waiters fawning on her every need, course after course streaming from the kitchen, the best table in the house. She had to come up with a way to get around that, and so she invented characters to go out and dine in the establishments. This of course is probably a great reason why this book had to be written after she was done being the food critic, even when people would have loved to know about it as it was going on. You don’t reveal your tricks when you still are using them. You wait until the shows over and done and then you let people in on your scheme.  That and I’m sure writing about your coworkers when your coworkers are staff at the New York Times may also not be such a good idea.  You want to keep your job after all.

The book was laid out in a wonderful fashion.  Chapters detailing each new “character” Ruth invented followed them to a restaurant and let you in on her dining experiences.  Many of these chapters ended with the printed Times review of whatever restaurant she had been extolling, both the good and the bad.  And if it wasn’t the review that you were finding, you were getting one of Ruth Reichl’s own recipes.  I for one will be trying her recipe for Pasta Carbonara, which looked quite simple and easy.  The book just flowed so easily.  What could have seemed incredibly choppy flowed together without fault.  I was left constantly wondering, how would she top herself now!  

Ilana once again gets the props for pointing me towards this book.  Loved it, want to read more, although it will have to wait.  I am trying to venture all over the board, and only read one book by each author this year.  There are so many books to choose from, I don’t want to limit myself to just a handful of authors, even if I love their writing.  So… until next week.


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