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Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table (Random House Reader's Circle) [Kindle Edition]

Ruth Reichl
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (225 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.00
Kindle Price: $9.99
You Save: $6.01 (38%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

For better or worse, almost all of us grow up at the table. It is in this setting that Ruth Reichl's brilliantly written memoir takes its form. For, at a very early age, Reichl discovered that "food could be a way of making sense of the world . . . if you watched people as they ate, you could find out who they were."

Tender at the Bone is the story of a life determined, enhanced, and defined in equal measure by unforgettable people, the love of tales well told, and a passion for food. In other words, the stuff of the best literature. The journey begins with Reichl's mother, the notorious food-poisoner known for-evermore as the Queen of Mold, and moves on to the fabled Mrs. Peavey, onetime Baltimore socialite millionaress, who, for a brief but poignant moment, was retained as the Reichls' maid. Then we are introduced to Monsieur du Croix, the gourmand, who so understood and yet was awed by this prodigious child at his dinner table that when he introduced Ruth to the soufflé, he could only exclaim, "What a pleasure to watch a child eat her first soufflé!" Then, fast-forward to the politically correct table set in Berkeley in the 1970s, and the food revolution that Ruth watched and participated in as organic became the norm. But this sampling doesn't do this character-rich book justice. After all, this is just a taste.

Tender at the Bone is a remembrance of Ruth Reichl's childhood into young adulthood, redolent with the atmosphere, good humor, and angst of a sensualist coming-of-age.

BONUS: This edition includes an excerpt from Ruth Reichl's Delicious!


Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

New York Times restaurant critic Ruth Reichl shares lessons learned at the hands (and kitchen counters) of family members and friends throughout her life, from growing up with her taste-blind mother to the comfort of cream puffs while away at boarding school on "Mars" (Montreal seemed just as far away) to her most memorable meal, taken on a mountainside in Greece.

Her stories shine with the voices and recipes of those she has encountered on the way, such as her Aunt Birdie's maid and companion, Alice, who first taught Reichl both the power of cooking and how to make perfect apple dumplings; the family's mysterious patrician housekeeper, Mrs. Peavey, who always remembered to make extra pastry for the beef Wellington; Serafina, the college roommate with whom Reichl explored a time of protest and political and personal discovery; and, finally, cookbook author Marion Cunningham, who, after tales of her midlife struggles and transformation, gave Reichl the strength to overcome her own anxieties.

Reichl's wry and gentle humor pervades the book, and makes readers feel as if they're right at the table, laughing at one great story after another (and delighting in a gourmet meal at the same time, of course). Reichl's narrative of a life lived and remembered through the palate will stay with the reader long after the last page is turned.

From Publishers Weekly

Reichl discovered early on that since she wasn't "pretty or funny or sexy," she could attract friends with food instead. But that initiative isn't likely to secure her an audience for her chaotic, self-satisfied memoirs, although her restaurant reviews in the New York Times are popular. Reichl's knack for describing food gives one a new appreciation for the pleasures of the table, as when she writes here: "There were eggplants the color of amethysts and plates of sliced salami and bresaola that looked like stacks of rose petals left to dry." But when she is recalling her life, she seems unable to judge what's interesting. Raised in Manhattan and Connecticut by a docile father who was a book designer and a mother who suffered from manic depression, Reichl enjoyed such middle-class perks as a Christmas in Paris when she was 13 and high school in Canada to learn French. But her mother was a blight, whom Reichl disdains to the discomfort of the reader who wonders if she exaggerates. The author studied at the University of Michigan, earned a graduate degree in art history, married a sculptor named Doug, lived in a loft in Manhattan's Bowery and then with friends bought a 17-room "cottage" in Berkeley, Calif., which turned into a commune so self-consciously offbeat that their Thanksgiving feast one year was prepared from throwaways found in a supermarket dumpster. Seasoning her memoir with recipes, Reichl takes us only through the 1970s, which seems like an arbitrary cutoff, and one hopes the years that followed were more engaging than the era recreated here.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1682 KB
  • Print Length: 295 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks (May 25, 2010)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0036S4AMC
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,458 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
74 of 78 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A delicious autobiography July 16, 2001
Format:Paperback
In this autobiography, Ruth Reichl, the longtime food critic for the NY Times, now the editor in chief at Gourmet, explains how she came to love food. The book weaves a tapestry of stories, including some about her mother (dubbed the Queen of Mold for serving completely unpalatable dishes) and her early childhood (how an early trip to Paris and her time spent at a French-Canadian boarding school influenced her tastes) to her adulthood, working in a collaborative kitchen and becoming friends with influential foodies.
The stories are often laugh out loud funny, and some are very touching (her mother's manic behavior is explained later in the book). The book allows the reader to see Reichl's influences and her deep love of food through the stories, without Reichl ever coming out and saying "these are my influences."
Food lovers in particular will probably adore this book, but lovers of autobiographies will probably also enjoy it. The book is not about food, exactly, but about a woman's coming of age (and part of that coming of age is that she simply loves food and the art of its creation).
A delicious read--I couldn't put it down.
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51 of 53 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
This is a very enjoyable autobiographical account of a foodie discovering a range of cooking and eating possibilities way beyond her first, rather ghastly, home experiences. Reichl introduces us to memorable characters who accidentally or deliberately guided the development of her taste/s. I read it through at a sitting the first time. Now I am reading it more slowly and photocopying some of the recipes because I don't want to cover the book in grease. Highly recommended as a story of a personal "getting of wisdom", as well as a narrative which is crowded with memorable characters. P.S. I ordered as a companion, and am still reading, the 1998 compilation of essays about food, We are What we Ate, edited by Mark Winegardner.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A lovely souffle of a book May 14, 2002
By debvh
Format:Paperback
Light, yet rich and tasty. Restaurant critic Ruth Reichl's memoir is all of these. Easy to read, yet filled with insight and well-rounded characters. The author's mother suffered from manic depression, and one way it manifested itself was in bizarre - and often downright poisonous - culinary creations. The author describes herself as having been shaped by her mother's handicap, beginning at an early age to use food as a way of making sense of the world. She effectively conveys this food-sense in a series of funny and poignant tales that take us from her childhood in New York up through young adulthood in California. She lovingly introduces the significant people in her life, revealing them to us in how and what they cooked. Her stories are punctuated by recipes (I didn't cook any of them, but they look like they should work).
The author is equally effective when she moves away from the table to tell more directly of her relationships with friends and family. She describes some episodes that could be seen as time-bound clichés - living in a commune, working in a collectively managed restaurant - with a perspective sometimes lacking in baby-boom memoirs. She brings similar good-humored perspective to her mother's mental illness and her own struggle with anxiety attacks, never wallowing in graphic description of symptoms. You don't have to be a "foodie" to enjoy TENDER AT THE BONE, just a lover of warm, tender memoirs.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delicious Reading; Fascinating Life... July 6, 2002
Format:Paperback
The friend that I borrowed this book from was devastated when I returned it and she (subsequently) couldn't find it. Synchronously, I received it in a recycling effort from one of her dear friends. Imagine how excited she's going to be to receive it back!

With good-humored perspective, Ruth Reichl, NY Times Food Editor, lovingly introduces the significant people in her life and the way she managed to find a path for herself and build a wonderful life in spite of a tumultuous childhood. A childhood that was filled with emotional trauma and rather ghastly home experiences, (imagine) Ruth's Mother picks her up from middle school, and without any preparation or explanation, drives to Canada, where she deposits Ruth in a Catholic boarding school where only French is spoken. When Ruth begs not to be left there, her Mother reminds her that she is the one that wants to learn French!
Reichl introduces us to quirky, memorable characters that thankfully guided the development of her love of fine food. A story filled with wit, sadness, resourcefulness and occasional mishap, Ruth will tell you she learned early in life that the most important thing in life is a good story!
You will be as amazed as I by the life Reichl led and discover a range of cooking and eating possibilities way beyond today's lifestyle. Excellent!
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A tasty treat March 28, 2003
Format:Paperback
Why I like this book can be best summed up by the beginning of the second-to-last chapter: After reading Reichl's first restaurant review, her editor remarks that she was born to do this, and she replies softly, "No, but I was very well trained." Although she was gifted with an appreciative palate and a knack for cooking, Reichl acquired her knowledge of foods from a series of good teachers, ranging from the eccentric quilt-maker Mr. Izzy T to exacting French winegrowers and tart-makers. Her ease with a wide variety of people, and her willingness to learn, were as crucial to her success as her way with words. She's a good storyteller, but there's genuine warmth beneath the engaging (and sometimes scary) portraits of her friends, family, and mentors. (I was a graduate student at Berkeley during some of the time she lived there, and her picture of commune living and the restaurant business was dead on -- but, unlike many other writers who came out of the same milieu, she neither romanticizes the hippie lifestyle nor sneers at the political mind-set.) The book is like having lunch with a friend who's knowledgeable about food and wine, but not pretentious or smug, and I found it perfectly delightful.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars nice story
This was a nice story told by the author about her life and how she found food. It's was a little boring at points but you can skim through it.
Published 2 days ago by Paul deering
4.0 out of 5 stars loved it
most interesting life growing up, fun to read, recipes great
Published 2 days ago by Chris G
5.0 out of 5 stars Yes you want to read this!
Thoroughly enjoyed this gem, can't put down delicious either.
Published 4 days ago by Rachel
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I had to buy Comfort Me With Apples right after I finished. Her story is wild and savory!
Published 5 days ago by Karen Mcgoldrick
2.0 out of 5 stars too long to say so little
I was not impressed. Although I did print out several of the recipes. Good read. Just too long for the message for me!
Published 20 days ago by Beth T. Wilson
5.0 out of 5 stars Fableous!
Ruth Reichl is funny and straight forward about life and what it has been for her. The recipes are FABLEOUS!
Published 21 days ago by Stephen Brown
1.0 out of 5 stars Quite boring!
Really kind of boring. No substance to it. It was about a girls life growing up and nothing really exciting happened. Read more
Published 22 days ago by Dadsgirlpete
1.0 out of 5 stars BORING -- COULD NOT FINISH
I have never stopped reading a book because it was TOO BORING. I am a speed reader and this one had me slogging along because it was so boring. Read more
Published 29 days ago by Naoma Foreman
5.0 out of 5 stars Tender at the Bone
A great journey with Ruth Reicht and recipes are a lovely addition. She really had and interesting life growing up.
Published 29 days ago by Sandee Ferreira
5.0 out of 5 stars A treat, but not fluffy!
I received this book as a gift in 1998. It was not of interest to me at the time, but I have since received the Gourmet Today Cookbook, edited by Ruth Reichl. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Joyce Dugan
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More About the Author

Ruth Reichl, Gourmet's editor in chief, is the author of the best-selling memoirs Tender at the Bone, Comfort Me with Apples, and Garlic and Sapphires, and the forthcoming Not Becoming My Mother and Other Things She Taught Me Along the Way. She is executive producer of the two-time James Beard Award-winning Gourmet's Diary of a Foodie, which airs on public television across the country, and the editor of the Modern Library Food Series. Before coming to Gourmet, she was the restaurant critic for the New York Times, receiving two James Beard Awards for her work. She lectures frequently on food and culture.

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