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"Garlic and Sapphires" by Ruth Reichl


pam claughton
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I stopped into Borders today, looking for a magazine, nothing else.....and ended up with a pile of books. All the intriguing Spring books seem to have arrived in the stores this week, among them the new Ruth Reichl book, Garlic and Sapphires, the Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise.

This is my first Reichl book, and I've fallen head over heels. It is such a fun read, about her experiences going undercover in all kinds of New York restaurants. It reads like a novel, except that I've never had a novel induce such mad cravings...she even makes sushi sound delicious.

Has anyone else read this yet? Or her earlier books? Are they similar in tone?

Off to find something to eat...

:) Pam

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Her first book, "Tender at the Bone," was my favorite. I reviewed her second memoir, "Comfort Me With Apples," about her pre-NYT years. I remember when it came out, no one at IACP was talking to each other because they were too busy reading about her affair with Colman Andrews :raz:

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Is she still the editor in chief of Gourmet magazine. The magazine where anyone with enough money can by advertorials that look like "articles"? "Articles" that are written by publicists?

The short answer is yes.

The long answer will be left to another thread. I have bipolar feelings about the current incarnation of the magazine.

Stephen Bunge

St Paul, MN

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Thankfully, Reichl is a great writer with a fascinating life to draw on. All three books have been really fun, fast, juicy reads - you have to hand it to her, she doesn't keep her cards all that close to her chest (e.g. Colman Andrews affair). And I have made quite a few of the recipes in her first two books (brownies - which are the best I've EVER had, and the lemon pasta and crab cakes both immediately moved onto my list of favorites).

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Thankfully, Reichl is a great writer with a fascinating life to draw on. All three books have been really fun, fast, juicy reads - you have to hand it to her, she doesn't keep her cards all that close to her chest (e.g. Colman Andrews affair). And I have made quite a few of the recipes in her first two books (brownies - which are the best I've EVER had, and the lemon pasta and crab cakes both immediately moved onto my list of favorites).

Catherine,

I was in Borders again today, (yes, it's an addiction), and her two earlier books, Tender at the Bone and Comfort me with Apples were on the buy 2, get 3 trade paperback table. So, I have loads of Ruth to look forward to. Thanks for the heads up on the recipes...I just checked out your blog too, and just subscribed to it!

:) Pam

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Thankfully, Reichl is a great writer with a fascinating life to draw on. All three books have been really fun, fast, juicy reads - you have to hand it to her, she doesn't keep her cards all that close to her chest (e.g. Colman Andrews affair). And I have made quite a few of the recipes in her first two books (brownies - which are the best I've EVER had, and the lemon pasta and crab cakes both immediately moved onto my list of favorites).

Catherine,

I was in Borders again today, (yes, it's an addiction), and her two earlier books, Tender at the Bone and Comfort me with Apples were on the buy 2, get 3 trade paperback table. So, I have loads of Ruth to look forward to. Thanks for the heads up on the recipes...I just checked out your blog too, and just subscribed to it!

:) Pam

You'll enjoy the books. And glad to hear you liked the blog! Thanks!

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Does she mention her mom was a lousy cook?

She did on a radio interview. She's hilarious. She also talked about various disguises when she was reviewing restaurants. She had a "typical Midwestern one", it got even funnier when the interviewer asked her if she ever dressed up in period or character costumes.

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...she even makes sushi sound delicious.

A rare talent, indeed.

Does she mention her mom was a lousy cook?

:laugh::laugh::laugh:

so overdone, IMHO. Sad, really. Because she has chapter after chapter of the dysfunction, and then no closure, no understanding, no "flashbulb moment" that gives her mother some kind of grace...I hope in real life, she was able to do so. Food parts were interesting, the relationship part, in my opinion, was very shallow.

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I have bipolar feelings about the current incarnation of the magazine.

You say that so kindly, as if there's any magazine left to read. I've been reading the magazine regularly since 1973 (I believe) and what's happened to it now is just sad. There's nothing there. No substance, nothing to read! I don't think there's any need to be bipolar about it.

Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

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Okay, I have to respond. "There's no magazine left to read."

WHAT???

Are you kidding? There are pieces by Bourdain on the modern restaurant, by literary geniuses (albeit misunderstood) like David Foster Wallace who started the debate about the humanity of killing your food (in this case, lobsters), and much more (though I confess Calvin Trillin is doing some of his most disappointing work in that magazine). Don't tell me you're part of the anti-cupcake cake cover brigade...?

Explain, please.

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I think her first two books are just the best ever. I wonder how long I'll have to wait in the UK for this one?? I raved about the first two so much, I got one of our stores that is mainly food, but has a few cook books to stock them. They soon had to reorder.

I stopped into Borders today, looking for a magazine, nothing else.....and ended up with a pile of books. All the intriguing Spring books seem to have arrived in the stores this week, among them the new Ruth Reichl book, Garlic and Sapphires, the Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise.

This is my first Reichl book, and I've fallen head over heels. It is such a fun read, about her experiences going undercover in all kinds of New York restaurants. It reads like a novel, except that I've never had a novel induce such mad cravings...she even makes sushi sound delicious.

Has anyone else read this yet? Or her earlier books? Are they similar in tone?

Off to find something to eat...

:) Pam

Danielle Ellis

Edinburgh Scotland

www.edinburghfoody.com

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Reichl's acute self-satisfaction can, at times, cloy to the point where you're tempted to grab her by that lustrous mane and whirl her into Alice Waters's wood-burning pizza oven. But the flip side of all that onanistic mmm-ing and ahh-ing is a genuinely infectious enthusiasm; when she discovers the ideal soba noodles -- which, upon being slurped up, ''vibrated as if playing inaudible music'' in her mouth -- you want to be right there with her in the Japanese noodle parlor, exchanging sultry glances over the steaming broth.

The Restaurant Queen (David Kamp) (from the NYTimes DIGEST update for Wednesday, 13 April 2005. Scroll down for the appropriate link. Note that the article in question first appeared on 10 April 2005.)

Soba

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Okay, I have to respond. "There's no magazine left to read."

WHAT???

Are you kidding? There are pieces by Bourdain on the modern restaurant, by literary geniuses (albeit misunderstood) like David Foster Wallace who started the debate about the humanity of killing your food (in this case, lobsters), and much more (though I confess Calvin Trillin is doing some of his most disappointing work in that magazine). Don't tell me you're part of the anti-cupcake cake cover brigade...?

Explain, please.

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Sorry. Just added a reply that had nothing in it - getting used to this board.

I have to agree with markk that Reichl's Gourmet is dull, although I like her writing.

"There's no there. there," frankly.

I used to buy Gourmet every month and archive it. I still have a few old (read 1985 to 2000) Gourmets that are packed full of info and wonderful recipes, travel articles, and musings on food. Now, I buy it once or twice a year and flip through it in 15 minutes. If Bon Appetit is more interesting, there's something wrong. I miss the old Gourmet.

IMO

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  • 4 months later...

I'm halfway through "Garlic and Sapphires" and I'm LOVING it! It's extremely well, and entertainingly written, and I'm laughing myself silly out loud (I'm on vacation and the people at the pool are sort of looking at me) and I can't help it, and I'm laughing with her, of course.

I had always liked her. I don't like the current state of Gourmet Magazine, as I've said, and this is the first book of hers that I've read, but it is GREAT !!

Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

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Doesn't anyone find ostentatious that her autobiography is in three volumes? All three books contain enough good writing to make one book, plus a lot of fluff to gouge the market.

I thought Patric Kuh's short bio of Reichl's tenure @ NYT in "The Last Days of Haute Cuisine" did her more justice than her own words.

"The Internet is just a world passing around notes in a classroom."

---John Stewart

my blog

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I've just finished her newest book, and I enjoyed it very much. I've read her other two books over the past few months, and I enjoyed them as well.

Gourmet magazine is only ok, but I highly recommend reading all of Ruth's books.

I don't mind the rat race, but I'd like more cheese.

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I have read "Garlic and Sapphires" and loved it. I just got "Comfort Me With Apples" and look forward to reading it.

Gourmet is a challenge, but I'm still threading through the advertising and enjoying what's left of the magazine.

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