Fans of Tender at the Bone
and Comfort Me with Apples
know that Ruth Reichl is a wonderful memoirist--a funny, poignant, and candid storyteller whose books contain a happy mix of memories, recipes, and personal revelations.
What they might not fully appreciate is that Reichl is an absolute marvel when it comes to writing about food--she can describe a dish in such satisfying detail that it becomes unnecessary for readers to eat. In her third memoir, Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise
, Reichl focuses on her life as a food critic, dishing up a feast of fabulous meals enjoyed during her tenure at The New York Times
. As a critic, Reichl was determined to review the "true" nature of each restaurant she visited, so she often dined incognito--each chapter of her book highlights a new disguise, a different restaurant (including the original reviews from the Times
), and a fresh culinary adventure. Garlic and Sapphires
is another delicious and delightful book, sure to satisfy Reichl's foodie fans and leave admirerers looking forward to her next book, hopefully about her life with Gourmet
. --Daphne Durham
More from Ruth Reichl
Amazon.com's The Significant Seven
Ruth Reichl answers the seven questions we ask every author.
Q: What book has had the most significant impact on your life?
A: Kate Simons New York Places and Pleasures. I read it as a little girl and then went out and wandered the city. She was a wonderful writer, and she taught me not only to see New York in a whole new way, but to look, and taste, beneath the surface.
Q: You are stranded on a desert island with only one book, one CD, and one DVD--what are they?
A: Ulysses by James Joyce. What better place to finally get through it?
Keith Jarrett's The Köln Concert. If youre going to listen to one piece over and over, this is one that doesnt get tiresome.
How to Build a Boat in Five Easy Steps. Since Im going to be watching one movie over and over, it might as well be useful.
Q: What is the worst lie you've ever told?
A: Im such a good liar, I wouldnt know where to begin.
Q: Describe the perfect writing environment.
A: I can write pretty much anywhere. But I prefer small, cozy spaces, with a good view over a lake or a forest, and room for the cats to curl up.
Q: If you could write your own epitaph, what would it say?
A: "Shell be right back."
Q: Who is the one person living or dead that you would like to have dinner with?
A: Elizabeth I. She fascinates me. She had a great mind, enormous appetites--and she was a survivor. The most interesting woman of an interesting time, and I have a million questions Id like to ask her.
Q: If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
A: You mean after creating world peace? This is a hard one. But Ive always wanted to be able to fly.
From Publishers Weekly
. As the New York Times
's restaurant critic for most of the 1990s, Reichl had what some might consider the best job in town; among her missions were evaluating New York City's steakhouses, deciding whether Le Cirque deserved four stars and tracking down the best place for authentic Chinese cuisine in Queens. Thankfully, the rest of us can live that life vicariously through this vivacious, fascinating memoir. The book—Reichl's third—lifts the lid on the city's storied restaurant culture from the democratic perspective of the everyday diner. Reichl creates wildly innovative getups, becoming Brenda, a red-haired aging hippie, to test the food at Daniel; Chloe, a blonde divorcée, to evaluate Lespinasse; and even her deceased mother, Miriam, to dine at 21. Such elaborate disguises—which include wigs, makeup, thrift store finds and even credit cards in other names—help Reichl maintain anonymity in her work, but they also do more than that. "Every restaurant is a theater," she explains. Each one "offer[s] the opportunity to become someone else, at least for a little while. Restaurants free us from mundane reality." Reichl's ability to experience meals in such a dramatic way brings an infectious passion to her memoir. Reading this work—which also includes the finished reviews that appeared in the newspaper, as well as a few recipes—ensures that the next time readers sit down in a restaurant, they'll notice things they've never noticed before.
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