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Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise Paperback – March 28, 2006
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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.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
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.
Top Customer Reviews
The hilarity comes from Reichl's penchant for donning elaborate disguises, the better to assure anonymity in assessing New York's most prominent eateries. These incognita excursions allow Reichl to skewer the pretensions and omissions of such well-known restaurants as Le Cirque and Tavern on the Green.
Garlic and Sapphires sets a refreshing tone due to Reichl's insistence on recognizing excellent dining in all of its venues, from humble ethnic restaurants to New York's most elegant establishments. Reichl's penchant for ferreting out little-known gems earns her the opprobrium of Bryan Miller, her predecessor as the Times's restaurant critic, and his supporters, all of whom charge Reichl with "letting down standards". But the many New Yorkers who experience life without expense account or trust fund appreciate her excursions to the wrong side of the tracks to identify dining delights.
Most important, Garlic and Sapphires provides a poignant look at what it is like to be too old, too unfashionable, or too poor to fully take part in the glories of the Big Apple. Reichl's disguises frequently place her in one or more these overlooked groups, and she provides a sensitive picture of what it is like to be marginalized-- not only by headwaiters at four-star dining establishments, but by society. One hopes that Reichl's tenure as Times restaurant critic made top restaurants more likely to treat all of their patrons with dignity and respect.Read more ›
She also has a way with description. I can almost taste these dishes, and am now starving...
If you like food, and the restaurant world, you will have an absolute ball with this book.
In "Garlic and Sapphires" the author invites you into her world so intimately that you feel you are sharing each and every meal with her. It would probably have been enough if Ruth had simply given us a compilation of her entire collected reviews because she writes so well in that vein, but the joy of this particular offering includes a cast of characters who are not from central casting. While she manages to keep herself in the limelight, as she should, she surrounds herself with willing (and sometimes unwilling) cohorts in her attempts to review restaurants through her many disguises and personalities. Her usually understanding husband, Michael, her precocious son Nicky, her friend and sometimes mentor Carol, and her close buddy Claudia all add to her support as the author becomes Miriam, Chloe, Brenda, Betty and Emily. A male critic could never have gotten away with what Ruth pulls off! It is a surprise to both the author and the reader that her dinner guests often become angry with her because she plays the roles of her assumed identities with such panache that they almost beg her to return to her own self.
In one of the most alluring chapters, Ruth relates how she meets a total stranger, Dan Green, who ends up dining with her at Lespinasse. Keeping her secret, she spends an evening with him wondering what he will think of the review when he reads it.Read more ›
This volume proves that Ms. Reichl is truly the best culinary memoirist today, and easily the best since M.F.K. Fisher. And, as one who has read more than a few of Ms. Fisher's memoirs, I would easily choose Ms. Reichl's humor and great stories of the modern scene over Ms. Fisher's slightly musty, albeit exquisitely crafted tales of cities and towns in France.
The primary point of this volume is to tell the stories behind Ms. Reichl's various disguises and personas she took on in order to dine at Daniel's and Lespanisse and Le Cirque without being identified as the restaurant critic for the Times. The book starts off with the amazing story of Reichl's flight from Los Angles to New York seated, by coincidence, along side a waitress of a major Manhattan restaurant. It turns out that posted in all restaurant kitchens in New York City was already a photograph of Ruth Reichl with a reward to any staff member who identifies Ms. Reichl in their restaurant.
In spite of all the other things on which Ruth could dwell, she stays remarkably on message. There is only the slightest of references to the great New York Times culinary writer, Craig Claiborne, who was still alive while Reichl was at the Times. And, there was only a slightly more specific reference to R. W. Appel and Amanda Hesser.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I love Ruth's thoughts on the restaurant industry. I read this book because she was quoted in another book I read and wanted to know more about her. This was the perfect start.Published 16 days ago by nicole
Delightful funny book. It is not just about telling what she did, it is about growth and her feelings. Very entertaining read.Published 22 days ago by Anon
I really liked it. She is funny, writes well, and I have liked everything she has written. This is no exception!!!!!!!Published 1 month ago by Andrea L. Solomon
Fun, light, interesting read. Foodies might like it better than non foodies.Published 1 month ago by Jessica
A surprisingly entertaining book. Of course, a newspaper writer should be a good writer, period, but it just didn't occur to me until I got into this. Read morePublished 1 month ago by K. Soto
I enjoyed this the very best of any of Ruth Reichl's books - it is laugh-out-loud hilarious!Published 2 months ago by Patty
Loved the book, but wished Ruth had opted out of the restaurant critic job sooner.Published 2 months ago by Lucy Rose
Ruth Reichl may specialize in food, but I really enjoy reading her books, including this one. If you haven't read "Tender at the Bone" or "Comfort Me with Apples",... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Lulu Fishbaum