- Amazon.com Exclusive: Read an exclusive essay from longtime New York magazine restaurant critic Gael Greene as she writes about one of her most memorable dining experiences.
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Insatiable: Tales from a Life of Delicious Excess Hardcover – April 4, 2006
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Top Customer Reviews
The most immediate comparison which comes to mind is to the three volumes of memoirs by current `Gourmet' editor in chief, Ruth Reichl who, for several years, sat in Craig Claiborne's chair as principle restaurant reviewer for `The New York Times' and whose most recent book, `Garlic and Sapphires' deals entirely with her `New York Times' restaurant reviews and her tactics for maintaining her anonymity while in the hunt for excellence at New York's finer eateries. And, as similar as these two women's careers may be, the differences make both bodies of work that much more interesting.
While Reichl, the younger of the two by at least a decade, grew up in New York City and learned French at a very early age, her professional culinary journalistic career was shaped on the west coast, firmly under the influence of the American food vanguard lead by the California vintners, Alice Waters, Jeremiah Tower, and Wolfgang Puck. Greene grew up in provincial Detroit, but had her culinary instincts formed by the emerging community of French restaurants in New York City. Her center of culinary gravity was in the dining rooms, kitchens, and cellars of the great French culinary establishment. She even admits that she came late to the California culinary movement.Read more ›
I had read that this book was more of a bawdy personal history than others, but I always adore the personal details of the writers, and am hardly a prude. Nevertheless, I could hardly muster an ounce of empathy for the gratuitous sexual self-objectification of the author who viewed restaurants more as stars in a social strata than producers of cuisine. I did not care about her tortured relationship with a porn star, whom she fed and bedded on her employer's dime. I grew exasperated as she ended a chapter about three marriages with a confession that she wrote it without understanding the point, and still, after writing it and choosing to include it in her book, she did not. The simple reality is that a writer is speaking to a reader, and Ms. Green's reader appeared to be...Ms. Green. While it is apparent that others enjoyed this book, I would suspect that a day with "Garlic and Sapphires" would disabuse anyone of the notion that this is a delightful memoir, and instead expose it for the indulgence that it is.
Greene's book, in contrast, reads as a series of lists 1) foods she has eaten 2) men she has slept with 3) celebrities she has known. There is no real character development, nor any personal insights.
True, she has enjoyed amazing, sumptious meals, but to what end? There is no meaning to her life beyond the endless quest for rich meals on her employer's dime. Her sexual appetite, although clearly prodigious, leads her to make empty choice after empty choice. Some people will wish that they shared Greene's luck that allowed her to live a completely self-indulgent life. But most sensible people will be grateful that they haven't haven't wasted every moment pursuing nothing.
An empty life leads to an empty book--a bit ironic considering the title. Reichl's books, though far less sexual, are fare more sensual and satisfying.
I was seriously dissappointed. I realize that at the time Greene became a food critic, critics were well known by the restauranteurs and treated like Queens with special menus the rest of the people dining did not ever see, but I had no idea how bad it was. To think everyones opinion was determined by a few egotistical food critics in New York who never ate the way the rest of the people did is disgusting. Couple this with her flamboyant use of her magazines money to pay for all her meals (and her lovers meals) and you can't find a reason to enjoy the true life of Gael Greene.
Frankly, for me, her little splurge with a porn star was the most interesting part of the book, but then she would move on to sleep with the very chefs she was reviewing.
Halfway through the book it became a real snore with very little mention of food - which is why a foodie would buy such a book. Instead it was one celebrity name after another, one bit of gossip after another and list after list of names of chefs and all their restaurants and if they made it or not. It was more one long dull gossip column than a book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I liked it. As a child of the 70s (born in 1972), I was poised between women's liberation/feminism and a traditional approach to womanhood that included taking the man's name and... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Leta Hamilton
I grew up a foodie, watching Julia Child and Graham Kerr, James Beard and Paul Prudhomme. We were lucky; other kids had Velveeta and fish sticks while we got escargots and brie. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Kate Blake
The part about her food reviews were OK. I cant believe we let his tramp make choices for the world about restaurants
and who should make it in the food world. Read more
I'm really surprised by the lukewarm reviews here. I've worked in the food business for over a decade, read many food books and memoirs, and this is one of my favorites. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Adrie Lester
Well written but I had hoped for more cooking and less love life. She did lead an interesting life and isn't afraid to talk about it in detail.Published on January 29, 2014 by JFS
just received my book order from amazon international books. condition of INSATIABLE is listed as "NEW", when in fact it is quite shopworn. Read morePublished on July 30, 2013 by Royce L. Smtih
Greene's memoir is a true page turner: filled with uncensored tales of sex, tantalizing descriptions of food and a permeating honesty and realness that I found refreshing and... Read morePublished on July 4, 2013 by xxlaaurenn
Gael Greene, in her book Insatiable: Tales from a Life of Delicious Excesses, she tells stories of steamy erotic soire's accompanied by intimate portraits of such culinary icons... Read morePublished on March 6, 2013 by Brian