Garlic and Sapphires, Ruth Reichl
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 admirers looking forward to her next book, hopefully about her life with Gourmet. –Daphne Durham
I really enjoy food writing – probably because I really enjoy food. (That was one of the best parts of my recent trip back to Tennessee, which needs to be another post.) I’ve read Ruth Reichl before and really enjoy her – despite the fact that much of the food she writes about, and the restaurants she reviewed in various guises during her years as restaurant critic for the New York Times, are pretty highbrow, she doesn’t come across as that sort of person at all. She shares enough of her life with the reader that she seems like someone you’d really want to sit down and share a meal with. I also find her writing and descriptions of food itself rather inspirational – it makes me feel like getting into the kitchen and creating something, or at least heading out to find a really good place to eat. This is a fairly quick and enjoyable read, spiced with the inclusion of several actual NYT restaurant reviews and some of Reichl’s own recipes (including one for spaghetti carbonara that’s not too different from one I use myself).