Ù Read ↠´ Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table by Ruth Reichl ¶ Having thoroughly enjoyed Garlic and Sapphires, I was thrilled to find this first of Reichl s memoirs on the 2 for 3 table at Barnes Noble.
In the preface, Reichl admits to modifying certain stories for dramatic effect But unless she s made entire years out of whole cloth, she s lived one hell of an interesting life Throughout it all, the power of a meal sometimes spectacular, sometimes spectacularly bad has been a constant.
And to be honest, I don t care if the tale s been embroidered, and I don t really care about Reichl s ultimate success as a critic Growing up in Greenwich Village in the fifties with her loving, but distracted father, her manic depressive mother, and her not blood but close enough grandmothers her wanderings around the Bowery on the edges of the early seventies art scene her accidental creation of a commune in Berkeley it s an entertaining, slow unfolding story, accentuated by the recipes she encounters along the way.
The culinary memoirs I ve read prior to this one have been written by a different sort of chef Julia Child, Jacques P pin, Marcus Samuelsson With that kind of background, it s probably not too surprising that I feel let down by Reichl s first memoir The beginnings of both the book and her life were pretty good Interesting, fun, funny, and one anecdote seemed to lead to the next easily The stories of Alice and Aunt Birdie were the best parts of the book My main complaint with the early years was a pet peeve of mine authors who insist on peppering their English writing with non English conversations that can only be guessed at Agatha Christie was a big offender in this way with her Poirot novels, but at least the context made it clear what Poirot was saying for those of us who don t speak French Reichl did not do the reader that favour, and I ended up using the Google Translate app in order to truly understand Reichl s time in Montreal Otherwise, I found the first part of the book to be enjoyable Then Reichl returned from Montreal and, frankly, became someone I wouldn t want to know Throughout the rest of the book she seemed so self satisfied and arrogant She also seemed to feel that it was important that she constantly remind the reader that this was the 1960s and while everyone around her was racist, SHE just was NOT rolls eyes After all, SHE had a black best friend, and a black close friend who was nearly a boyfriend, and a black family that she welcomed into her house as their social worker, and she visited all sorts of Puerto Rican establishments and and andblech Just too proud of herself and not seemingly aware at all of her massive privilege She grew up in a family that summered in a different home than they wintered She was sent, impulsively, to a boarding school in another country She was taken, again impulsively, to Europe She knew she was headed to college as a matter of course, and was able to do so out of state She vacationed in North Africa She was able to live in her parents New York apartment because they lived elsewhere With that background, a lot of her talk of drunk partying, bohemian lifestyles, and stopping in at filthy neighborhood fishmongers felt like she was slumming self congratulatorily I did get a kick out of some of the New York neighborhood bits, in that I recently watched an episode of some Food Network show that visited culinarily historic NYC businesses, and several of those were places Reichl mentioned It was funny to read her 1960s memories of those places compared to the public 2012 face of the same spots I had hopes that the NorCal section would make up for the negative Ann Arbor and post Masters degree NYC years, since I m a Bay Area girl born and raised and Berkeley is a part of me But no She seemed to be both full of pride in her crunchy hippie lifestyle and full of judgment for the crunchy hippies she lived with Much of the book was a denouncement of her bi polar mother, and yeah, life with an undiagnosed manic depressive as it was still being called at the time parent is not a picnic But all sympathy that was built up on that score was lost when Reichl wrote that if her mother had been normal, she Ruth wouldn t have been present for the 100th birthday celebration of one of her favourite people She wrote that her mother s illness was the dysfunctional glue that held them all together If that s true, and with a normal mother she would have just walked away from her family and ignored all holidays, events, etc.
, then it doesn t say much for Reichl Even as a married woman of 29 she was presenting herself as a spoiled child, grumpy and snotty when she wasn t getting attention but her husband was, shouting at people who suggested she help her mother, ignoring her father s pleas for assistance, and metaphorically stomping her feet about not getting to just do what she wanted and instead having to go straighten out the mess of a loved one s special day An impulsive wine tasting trip to France with a near stranger was a story that seemed shoehorned in, and the dumpster diving politically correct vegetarian bohemian suddenly eating shark s fin soup and sea turtles was a jarring ending If I didn t know there was a second volume I d have been very confused at the abrupt finish Because I enjoyed the beginning of this one, and because I already have it, I m giving Comfort Me With Apples a try Here s hoping that she relaxed about herself a bit in the 3 years between writing the two books.
Charming and amusing account of how food critic Reichl got tuned into cooking through her family experiences and explorations in her young adult period Her manic depressive mother was hopeless as a cook, even dangerous, as when she wasn t using canned ingredients, she used bargain foods dangerously past their expiration dates Instead, her inspiration came from an elderly aunt and her maid What she learned at an early age she used to great advantage in her teen years to draw a good social crowd around food Experience with French cuisine from a sojourn at a boarding school and with Caribbean food from a college room mate put her on a path that led to working in an upscale vegetarian restaurant in San Francisco while essentially living in commune with her husband The book is fun because she places recipes in the context of her life when they had a big impact, from simple potato salad and deviled eggs to Beef Bougoinon The approach is homey and soothing, although not as exciting as the way sensual dishes are placed in the fictional Like Water for Chocolate or as entertaining as the accounts of challenging preparations for Child dishes in the memoir Julie and Julia.
I like reading challenges because, every now and then, you get lucky and you stumble on something you would never read otherwise This book is the perfect example, if you, like me, thought that food memoirs would be boring and uninspiring, try this book It s a delicious memoirs sprinkled with exquisite travel memories and a handful of recipes What an unexpected delight Recommended.
I really enjoy reading about food and Ruth Reichl never disappoints Though not so much about food as other books I have read, but of a story of her life and how food played a role in it I enjoyed the different recipes that she added to the book and have marked a few to make for my husband I always find recipes interesting and enjoy them even when there is a story that comes along with them I loved Reichl s book Garlic and Sapphires and now might have to re read it Both a must read for any food lover.
A book that is part biography, part paean to the glory of the kitchen, and part cookbook, Tender At The Bone is one of the quickest reads I ve had all year Ruth Reichl is editor of Gourmet magazine and her long years in the magazine industry are evident in her writing style Chapters are short and to the point no frippery for her and punctuated by a recipe of whatever delicious creation she has been reminiscing about These vignettes follow Ruth and her lifelong relationship with food from her mother s inability to tell when food has spoiled to her first gig waitressing to her membership in a Berkeley restaurant collective to a delicious and educational trip through French wine country Initially I was put off by the early scenes of her learning to cook from her family s servants scenarios of privilege such as these always tend to fan the flames of my class resentment but I can get over the fact that, trite though they are, this is life as this woman has experienced it On the whole the story is better off when Ruth allows herself to be overcome with the delight she feels in food, several descriptions had me salivating like some Pavlovian pooch and wishing I knew people who could cook these fantastic confections for me.
Like I said, it is a quick read that won t stick with you long though the recipes may , but enjoyable in a pinch I doubt I ll rush out and buy the rest of her books, but should one fall into my hands on a plane ride or another sunny day, I wouldn t complain.
I had a whole review written and ready to be posted when I accidentally trashed it Grrr Just let it be known, Reichl is one of my all time favorite food writers She could write the telephone book and it would be wonderful At An Early Age, Ruth Reichl Discovered That Food Could Be A Way Of Making Sense Of The World If You Watched People As They Ate, You Could Find Out Who They Were Her Deliciously Crafted Memoir, Tender At The Bone, Is The Story Of A Life Determined, Enhanced, And Defined In Equal Measure By A Passion For Food, Unforgettable People, And The Love Of Tales Well Told Beginning With Reichl S Mother, The Notorious Food Poisoner Known As The Queen Of Mold, Reichl Introduces Us To The Fascinating Characters Who Shaped Her World And Her Tastes, From The Gourmand Monsieur Du Croix, Who Served Reichl Her First Souffl , To Those At Her Politically Correct Table In Berkeley Who Championed The Organic Food Revolution In The S Spiced With Reichl S Infectious Humor And Sprinkled With Her Favorite Recipes, Tender At The Bone Is A Witty And Compelling Chronicle Of A Culinary Sensualist S Coming Of Age This is a memoir built around food and as Reichl put it, she decided that instead of pictures she d give recipes throughout to paint a picture of her relationships The Author s Note tells us, Everything here is true, but it may not be entirely factual In some cases I have compressed events in others I have made two people into one I have occasionally embroidered That sort of thing usually bugs the hell out of me It didn t here Maybe because Reichl was open about it from the beginning maybe just because she s such an engaging writer and personality She said she didn t want to get in the way of a good story, and she s a good enough storyteller and that I forgive her The book wasn t found in the biography section of my neighborhood bookstore, but rather in the cookbook section, in food writing So, you might expect you have to be a real foodie to love this yet I m not really and yet did love it Part of that is that this is a lot than an ode to food A lot It s about growing up in New York City s Washington Heights in the early 60s, and a boarding school in Montreal, and coming to adulthood in Michigan in late sixties and early seventies Berkeley California It s about travels to Tunisia and Greece, Italy and France It s about dealing with a crazy mother, the deterioration of a cherished friendship and love It s tender, yes in than one sense And often quite funny I found myself very much amused at the picture of the very hippie era Oh, and there is the food And she has a gift in describing it and connecting it to her life Here s her description of her first taste of Brie I felt Monsieur du Croix watching as I ate the strong, slippery cheese It was so powerful I felt the tips of my ears go pink She gives us not just the taste, but the colors, the sensations This was just so fun to read on several different levels Highly recommended.
This was a really well written food memoir from a time when food memoirs weren t really a thing I felt it was a bit of a cross between Fun Home by Alison Bechdel and Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel for the family antics mixed with recipes from the narration I didn t really know anything about the author, so I found the bits about her family or personally life interesting than how she wound up in her career of food writer, but they are all tied together The only recipe I might make is for the brownies P Overall, I really enjoyed it.