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GastroChick

Garlic and Sapphires

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After many weeks waiting my copy of Garlic and Sapphires has finally arrived. The author Ruth Reichl scored the enviable job as the restaurant critic for the New York Times and it is her account of the experience.

I was wondering if anyone else had got their hands on it and if so what they thought.

Maybe some of the American Egulleters have already read it?


Edited by Smithy Corrected title (log)

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After many weeks waiting my copy of Garlic and Sapphires has finally arrived.

I loved Tender at the Bone and Comfort me with Apples so it's likely to be a real treat.

Her books sadden me though - they're a constant reminder of how the US continues to take foodwriting seriously while we seem to have turned it into a branch of lightweight celebrity/lifestyle journalism.


Tim Hayward

"Anyone who wants to write about food would do well to stay away from

similes and metaphors, because if you're not careful, expressions like

'light as a feather' make their way into your sentences and then where are you?"

Nora Ephron

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I was wondering if anyone else had got their hands on it and if so what they thought.

Maybe some of the American Egulleters have already read it?

Yes, as a matter of fact. Please see maggiethecat's essay in the Daily Gullet.

You might also find the recent eG Spotlight Conversation with Ruth Reichl to be interesting reading.


Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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I really enjoyed it. Came across it in Oz last week and read it in an hour or two. It's a really easy read, but very hard to put down. I found myself trying to navigate across Sydney with a map in one hand reading passages whenever we were on a reasonably long straight bit.


Suzi Edwards aka "Tarka"

"the only thing larger than her bum is her ego"

Blogito ergo sum

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By coincidence Jay rayner reviewed it in this week's Observer.

Not exactly a coincidence. The book's just been published here. Which is why I've reviewed it.


Jay

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By coincidence Jay rayner reviewed it in this week's Observer.

Not exactly a coincidence. The book's just been published here. Which is why I've reviewed it.

Damn! I thought that was why - thanks for finaling sorting that one out for me, its been troubling me all day.

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I was wondering if anyone else had got their hands on it and if so what they thought.

Maybe some of the American Egulleters have already read it?

Yes, as a matter of fact. Please see maggiethecat's essay in the Daily Gullet.

You might also find the recent eG Spotlight Conversation with Ruth Reichl to be interesting reading.

thanks for that I'll check those links out

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After many weeks waiting my copy of Garlic and Sapphires has finally arrived.  The author Ruth Reichl  scored the enviable job as the restaurant critic for the New York Times and it is her account of the experience.

I was wondering if anyone else had got their hands on it and if so what they thought.

Maybe some of the American Egulleters have already read it?

Yes, I know many of us have...I read it a while back, more than a year ago. My friend worked at Penguin at the time and managed to grab an advance copy for me. I really enjoyed it, though I'm still partial to Tender at the Bone and Comfort Me With Apples, as far as Reichl's writings go. This latest book suffers a bit (just a bit) from her divided attentions - on the one hand, providing the back story for some of her more famous (or more personally significant) reviews, and on the other, weaving those into the more personal journey she took during her time as the NYT critic.

That said, the book is written in her indubitably readable style and is a great treat for anyone who is interested in restaurants or food writing. I loved seeing the process she went through when reviewing the restaurants, both gathering the information and writing the story - this was also one of my favorite things about Comfort.

Her books sadden me though - they're a constant reminder of how the US continues to take foodwriting seriously while we seem to have turned it into a branch of lightweight celebrity/lifestyle journalism.
Don't know about that one...I'm not nearly familiar enough with the UK food writing scene to make a judgment call here, but I can tell you that the US version is still rife with celebrity worship and trend-mongering. Though there is a lot of talk about moving toward more serious food journalism (Reichl's work seems to me to be more "food memoir" in nature), and while we do see the occasional high-profile piece (David Foster Wallace's "Consider the Lobster," from Gourmet, might be considered among these), they are few and far between.
Edited by Megan Blocker (log)

"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

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I got the book for Christmas, so I presume it was ordered on Amazon UK (as we’ve had bad luck using the US site, with books not arriving). I thought it was a great read and I tore through it. It left me wanting more, and even though I loved reading the reviews, I would have happily sacrificed some of them for more stories. She's a great writer.

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After many weeks waiting my copy of Garlic and Sapphires has finally arrived.

I loved Tender at the Bone and Comfort me with Apples so it's likely to be a real treat.

Her books sadden me though - they're a constant reminder of how the US continues to take foodwriting seriously while we seem to have turned it into a branch of lightweight celebrity/lifestyle journalism.

That's is a very interesting point re. food journalism. Perhaps its something to do with the dumbing down as we lurch further and further in to a celebrity obsessed reality show based culture.

I'm not too familiar with US foodwriting - any notable examples I should look at?

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After many weeks waiting my copy of Garlic and Sapphires has finally arrived.

I loved Tender at the Bone and Comfort me with Apples so it's likely to be a real treat.

Her books sadden me though - they're a constant reminder of how the US continues to take foodwriting seriously while we seem to have turned it into a branch of lightweight celebrity/lifestyle journalism.

That's is a very interesting point re. food journalism. Perhaps its something to do with the dumbing down as we lurch further and further in to a celebrity obsessed reality show based culture.

I'm not too familiar with US foodwriting - any notable examples I should look at?

Depends on how far back you want to go!

I highly recommend M.F.K. Fisher...an incredible starting point, and if you like Reichl, I think you'll probably like Fisher as well. Another fun one is Jeffrey Steingarten...he is Vogue's food critic, and many of his essays are collected into two books (The Man Who Ate Everything and It Must Have Been Something I Ate), both of which I thoroughly enjoyed.

For a drop-kick introduction, check out the "Best American Food Writing" collections, edited by Holly Hughes. Those tend to give an overview of what's been written in a given year.


"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

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This is SO weird...I'm reading Garlic and Sapphires right now! Almost done, actually (snif). I've had it in the house for months, and just picked it up--I completely agree that it's an engaging and easy read.

I also thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend Mimi Sheraton's Eating My Words: An Appetite For Life. That one has a more international flavor, fwiw.


"I'm not eating it...my tongue is just looking at it!" --My then-3.5 year-old niece, who was NOT eating a piece of gum

"Wow--this is a fancy restaurant! They keep bringing us more water and we didn't even ask for it!" --My 5.75 year-old niece, about Bread Bar

"He's jumped the flounder, as you might say."

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By coincidence Jay rayner reviewed it in this week's Observer.

Not exactly a coincidence. The book's just been published here. Which is why I've reviewed it.

And it was just published in paperback in the US. Heard an interview with her this morning on NPR.


Ilene

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I'm not too familiar with US foodwriting - any notable examples I should look at?

John Thorne, Jeffrey Steingarten and Jim Harrison have all been on the bedside table in the last couple of weeks.

It's refreshing to find writing that isn't afraid to think around food instead of defaulting to recipes.

Eating is our most common, universal sensual experience, I can't understand why we stopped writing about it almost exactly as celebrity chefs hit our screens


Tim Hayward

"Anyone who wants to write about food would do well to stay away from

similes and metaphors, because if you're not careful, expressions like

'light as a feather' make their way into your sentences and then where are you?"

Nora Ephron

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I did the books on tape version, and I loved it. Highly recommended. I can't wait to see what she does next.

Just arrived, via the "used and new" button on Amazon: The Armchair James Beard. Very enjoyable, and less than $10, including shipping.

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I'm not too familiar with US foodwriting - any notable examples I should look at?

John Thorne, Jeffrey Steingarten and Jim Harrison have all been on the bedside table in the last couple of weeks.

It's refreshing to find writing that isn't afraid to think around food instead of defaulting to recipes.

Eating is our most common, universal sensual experience, I can't understand why we stopped writing about it almost exactly as celebrity chefs hit our screens

Calvin Trillin is another good 'food-memoirist'.

Anthony Bourdain, of course, for brashness and swagger.

Michael Ruhlman's Soul of a Chef and Making of a Chef.


Stephen Bunge

St Paul, MN

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I'm not too familiar with US foodwriting - any notable examples I should look at?

MFK Fisher was clearly the biggest and the best in the world of American food writing, but she was far more than a food writer. She wrote a lot and she wrote nothing that's not worth reading , regularly.

Calvin Trillin is fun. He is so enthusiastic about the the kind of food you would never dream of eating, that you really want to eat it.

On my bedside table right now . I have MFK's Among Friends and Sister Age and Trillin's American Fried, which if it didn't quite persuade me that " The best resaurants in the world are, of course, in Kansas City" did at least make me think that it might be worth the journey to check this out for myself. He can certainly write. (even when he's wrong. which he must be - musn't he ?)

gethin

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Michael Ruhlman's Soul of a Chef and Making of a Chef.

You can read my eGullet interview with him here.

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Thanks for everyones recommendations Re. American food writers. Actually I recently read 'Fork it Over' by Alan Richman, which was intensely funny, I also enjoyed it because it wasn't just restricted to dining in America/New York.

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MFK Fisher was  clearly the biggest and the best in the world of American food writing,

Now you're talking :wink:


Tim Hayward

"Anyone who wants to write about food would do well to stay away from

similes and metaphors, because if you're not careful, expressions like

'light as a feather' make their way into your sentences and then where are you?"

Nora Ephron

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For an article on local oystering, I just reread 'Consider the Oyster' by the perhaps aptly- named Fisher. It has aged as gracefully as a witty doyenne at the bar, and is a rather more focused read than Mark Kurlansky's recently published but less roistering look at 'New York on the Half Shell'. Let it be said that although the central theme of both books was the hermaphroditic mollusc, neither suffered cross-dressing issues.

Nor questionable wigs.

On the whole, and comparitively speaking, Bryan Miller's NYT reviews have aged rather gracefully too.


Edited by jamiemaw (log)

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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Fourteen years late to the party on this one but it is a cheap buy on Amazon at present. Being from Australia her name is not particularly familiar, nor is the force of being the New York Times restaurant critic anything special to me.

 

No-one else has used the highlight function on this quote in the book but this perfectly captures an olfactory experience that I've had in the USA which still seems to treat bars like it's coming out of the recession: "Occasionally I’d pass a broken-down bar that burped alcohol into the street when the door swung open." And so it goes. I notice Jay Rayner above preaching about a lack of current relevance of her restaurant criticisms. That misses the point and may suit his biases but the way that she presents the criticisms to highlight her experiences is a master stroke. It is excellent writing that foreshadows her subsequent journeys.

 

Don't expect to read it as a reflection of the current state of restaurants in New York but do read it as an education in how reviewers can excel in their art. Do yourself a favour and buy it while it's discounted. 

 


Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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As an Angeleno I am partial to the late Jonathan Gold.  https://www.latimes.com/local/obituaries/la-fo-jonathan-gold-obit-20180721-story.html 

I like reading Ruth Reichl's works as she paints the scene so well. Kim Severson  interviewed her for Spoon Fed. Her quote regarding giving money to women on the streets:

I always give money to women on the street. What if that was my mother and no one would give her a thing?  She has often described her mom's mental health struggles.

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On 3/6/2006 at 3:53 PM, GastroChick said:

any notable examples I should look at?

 

Check out Whetstone.  Its focus is not solely US food, and it trends dense; but Stephen Satterfield, et al are doing good work there.  

 

MFK Fisher's work helped me through some very difficult years.

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