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Insatiable: Tales from a Life of Delicious Excess Paperback – April 11, 2007

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; Reprint edition (April 11, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446695106
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446695107
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #396,634 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Greene almost turned down New York magazine's request to be its weekly food critic in 1968, but decided that free meals at the city's top restaurants would be wonderful. Turns out it was. She has reviewed and reveled in the city's eateries, offering her often spicy commentary on the best and worst of them. As her spicy life shares the spotlight with the food, listeners can savor good food and good sex, foreplay and fork-play in her remembrances of what she's done (and eaten) with whom. Nancy Travis's reading is a nice concoction of humor, sarcasm, pathos, New York edge and French pronunciation. Greene herself speaks at beginning and end, providing listeners with a lovely appetizer and dessert. There's much to learn about food, food writers, restaurateurs, sex and New York City's love affair with all of it through the last nearly 40 years.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

In this freewheelingly sensuous autobiography, restaurant critic and novelist Greene casts the path of her life as an education of her appetites. Born into an unexceptional postwar midwestern home, Greene knew little about taste. Her hunger for good food led her from a successful career as a magazine writer to a coveted position as one of Manhattan's most respected restaurant critics. Simultaneous development into womanhood followed a no-less-stellar trajectory. Her male conquests, begun in earnest when she gained access in Detroit to a visiting Elvis Presley's hotel suite, continue through a host of celebrities and a remarkable doomed marriage. Her culinary appetite takes her to France and a vision of perfection at Fernand Point's temple of French gastronomy. Greene had the great good fortune to become a food critic just as American culture was awakening to a newfound infatuation with all tastes French, Italian, and Chinese, just as the same culture liberated women to revel in other appetites their bodies might hunger after. Greene joyfully and unabashedly celebrates both food and sex, having her own way with both. Recipes (for food) included. Mark Knoblauch
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

I really didn't need nor want to know about that either.
Donald Mitchell
This is not just a book for Foodies - though if you are one you will love it for all the insider tidbits on restaurants and chefs and tete-de-tetes the world over!
J in London
So if that bothers you, do not -- I repeat, do NOT -- read this book.
Becky Clark

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 45 people found the following review helpful By B. Marold HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on May 13, 2006
Format: Hardcover
`Insatiable' is a collection of anecdotal memoirs by Ms. Gael Greene of the overshadowingly broad brimmed hats and long time food writer and restaurant critic of `New York' magazine. While the 51 chapters do touch on Ms. Greene's life before `New York', they generally stay very close to their `New York' wellspring, her column, named `The Insatiable Gourmet' by magazine editor in chief, Clay Felker.

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.
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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Fran Sepler on September 6, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I absorb "foodie" books at the rate that some breathe. Reichl, Bourdain, Child, Buxton and others are the source of hours of fond distraction from my too-busy-to-do-anything life and my aspirations to understand food the way I understand my professional work -- intuitively, technically and personally.

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.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Natasha on June 7, 2007
Format: Paperback
If Reichl's memoirs were a nourishing meal, then Greene's is a bag of chips. Reichl's trilogy about her life in food is ultimately about developing relationships, and discovering how to make a meaningful life.

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.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Diva Denise on July 8, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was so looking forward to another food critic's life story like Ruth Reichl's Garlic and Sapphire - one of the best books I have ever read.

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.
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