Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Savory Memoirs

In Ruth Reichl's Tender at the Bone, she explains how her life-long obsession and love affair with food began. From her formative years to her days living in a Berkeley commune and the beginning of her writing career, she shares her fondest memories of preparing and consuming her favorites. Her follow-up memoir Comfort Me With Apples is a more adult exploration of her life, but she shares her same open-hearted, self-depecrating charm. In her last book Garlic and Sapphires, she brings us along to the restaurants she reviews-- only she's in disguise. Reichl creates wildly innovative getups, becoming Brenda, a red-haired aging hippie, to test the food at Daniel; Chloe, a blonde divorcée, to evaluate Lespinasse; and even her deceased mother, Miriam, to dine at 21. Such elaborate disguises—which include wigs, makeup, thrift store finds and even credit cards in other names—help Reichl maintain anonymity in her work, but they also do more than that. "Every restaurant is a theater," she explains. Each one "offer[s] the opportunity to become someone else, at least for a little while. Restaurants free us from mundane reality." Reichl's ability to experience meals in such a dramatic way brings an infectious passion to her memoir.


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