5.03.2005

Garlic and Sapphires, Ruth Reichl

garlic

Just finished this delicious romp of a book - tore through it in a couple quick sittings.

Two fairly raw thoughts:

The book is fantastic. More than her others, it focuses on food and restaurants. There are delicious and inspiring descriptions of dishes eaten in the big restaurants of NYC, from her time at the New York Times food critic. There are the details of being a critic, the details of food writing ethics, the details of the tricks of the trade. There are the details of eating, of taking food in her mouth and being so amazed she stops breathing, and can only describe the experience afterward as psychedelic. I love details. Especially when these details are describing food.

She also describes some wretched meals, eaten with wretched people. Actually, there are a lot of wretched meals. And reprinted are many of her reviews from the New York Times, so that you have the whole experience of multiple visits to a restaurant, and then you get to see it boiled down.

The 2nd thought:

Ruth is a bit whacked. In order not to be recognized, she disguised herself. We're not talking simply a wig - we're talking full blown characters that she "became." I guess I appreciate that she recognizes that, after a while, this is a bit extreme. Her friend hates her as one person, her husband and son actually prefer her as another! I understand, because she explains it well, that it is critical for her not to be recognized. I really respect that. But dressing up as someone else and becoming that character in some weird little restaurant-dining drama are two different things. But I respect her for letting her freak-flag fly.

So, in a nutshell: her best book yet; really great foodie book, because of the focus on fancy-pants NYC restaurants; bit of weirdness with the disguises but this is more than made up for with great descriptions of food. Reminds you of why the pros get paid the big bucks.

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