Ruth Reichl is the restaurant critic of The New York Times. She lives in New York City with her husband, her son, and two cats.
From the New York Times food critic: growing up in love with food.
YA-This gastronomic delight is best taken slowly so that readers can savor each word. Motivated by fear of her mother's bizarre cooking escapades ("She liked to brag about `Everything Stew,' a dish invented while she was concocting a casserole out of a two-week-old turkey carcass"), Reichl learned to cook early and her entertaining descriptions of kitchen disasters are sure to cause howls of laughter time and again. There were also some requisite difficulties, too, and readers will wince while reading of the author's weight battles and self-image problems while growing up; her college roommate's estrangement; and her mother's mental imbalances. Every job she took, from social work to commune cook, gave her one more piece of experience that eventually led to her current career, that of restaurant reviewer and writer extraordinaire. As an added bonus, this thoroughly enjoyable memoir also includes a handful of recipes that will make readers' mouths water.-Susan R. Farber, Ardsley Public Library, NY
Reichl discovered early on that since she wasn't "pretty or funny or sexy," she could attract friends with food instead. But that initiative isn't likely to secure her an audience for her chaotic, self-satisfied memoirs, although her restaurant reviews in the New York Times are popular. Reichl's knack for describing food gives one a new appreciation for the pleasures of the table, as when she writes here: "There were eggplants the color of amethysts and plates of sliced salami and bresaola that looked like stacks of rose petals left to dry." But when she is recalling her life, she seems unable to judge what's interesting. Raised in Manhattan and Connecticut by a docile father who was a book designer and a mother who suffered from manic depression, Reichl enjoyed such middle-class perks as a Christmas in Paris when she was 13 and high school in Canada to learn French. But her mother was a blight, whom Reichl disdains to the discomfort of the reader who wonders if she exaggerates. The author studied at the University of Michigan, earned a graduate degree in art history, married a sculptor named Doug, lived in a loft in Manhattan's Bowery and then with friends bought a 17-room "cottage" in Berkeley, Calif., which turned into a commune so self-consciously offbeat that their Thanksgiving feast one year was prepared from throwaways found in a supermarket dumpster. Seasoning her memoir with recipes, Reichl takes us only through the 1970s, which seems like an arbitrary cutoff, and one hopes the years that followed were more engaging than the era recreated here. (Mar.)
"Reading Ruth Reichl on food is almost as good as eating it."--Washington Post Book World
"An absolute delight to read...How lucky we are that [Ruth Reichl] had the courage to follow her appetite."--Newsday "A poignant, yet hilarious, collection of stories about people [Reichl] has known and loved, and who, knowingly or unknowingly, steered her on the path to fulfill her destiny as one of the world's leading food writers."--Chicago Sun-Times "While all good food writers are humorous...few are so riotously, effortlessly entertaining as Ruth Reichl."--New York Times Book Review "A savory memoir of [Reichl's] apprentice years...Reichl describes [her] experiences with infectious humor...The descriptions of each sublime taste are mouthwateringly precise...A perfectly balanced stew of memories."--Kirkus Reviews