Reichl has a flair for words and for description that makes this a wonderful read. She gives equal attention to people and food and brings everything together. Her stories and her personal development are alternately funny, sad, and sweet and a joy to read.
Absolutely wonderful. When Reichl agrees to become the restaurant critic for the NY Times, she has no idea how her life will change. Forced into disguises to see how the non-celebrity actually experiences a restaurant the story becomes unexpectedly analytical. But the gustatorial experiences are more than you can possibly imagine. Reichl brings the food to life, and we share her delight in the exquisite and her dismay at the meals that are hype with nothing to appreciate. She even includes recipes! I found myself wishing this book would go on and on.
Fois gras, anyone? She seemed to eat a lot of that in this book. I enjoyed her lovely descriptions of the foods she sampled at New York's finest (and not so fine) restaurants. Her disguises were mostly funny, but sometimes poignant. The book has a really nice ending, too.
Ruth Reichl seems like a very down-to-earth woman, who took her job as restaurant critic for the NY Times very seriously. Her elaborate disguises were dreamed up so that she could share the treatment and food that lesser mortals would experience in a fine restaurant. But wearing the disguises led to some real soul-searching on her part, and that introspection, coupled with her obvious love of and knowledge about food, sets this book apart. She's someone you'd love to meet, to have for a friend, to share a meal with.
I love this book! This is the third in what I believe is a trilogy of memoirs by this author, and this is the best. Oh, I really did enjoy the other two, or I wouldn't have gotten this one, but by now she is happily married and a mother, so we don't have to read about her sex life anymore. (I know, this really ages me.)
But this is the story of when she takes the job as the NYT's food critic, and before she even begins her picture is plastered in all the restaurants so the staff will know her when she arrives.
Ha! She becomes a master of disguise with the help of this really neat old lady, and a lady with a wig shop who really knows her stuff. What is great about the author's writing is that everyone becomes a character in her books. Everyone. She graces us with the most tempting recipes, and even prints her actual reviews of the places she ate in where usually, she was treated pretty shabbily, until she would arrive as herself. The comparisons were shocking. I was hooked on this book from the first page and not once did my attention wander. This is the kind of book that I carried around, in case I got a free minute here and there.
This is such a fun book to read. The author uses several disguises in her work, lives a fascinating life as a food critic, describes food in sensuous detail. I loved it.
Reads very quickly so you can pass it along!
Ellen H. (eeeee) reviewed Garlic and Sapphires (Audio CD) (Abridged) on
Helpful Score: 4
Very enjoyable light read about Reichl's stint as food critic for the New York Times. Interesting insights into both the restaurant world and journalism. I loaned this to a friend who has been working her way through the recipes...the chocolate cake was quite good.
Dining out with Ruth Reichl and her finely-tuned palate makes for a tasty morsel of a read. Here, the former food critic of The New York Times dishes up the backstory behind some of her most lively reviews, both glowing and scathing. A positive NYT review from "the most powerful food critic in the world" can easily mean hundreds of thousands of dining dollars for a restaurant, so her photo is pinned up prominently in kitchens throughout the city, and rewards offered by restaurant owners to servers for spotting her. In an attempt to dine undetected and find out what celebrated restaurants are really like, Reichl responds by donning a variety of wacky disguises in a culinary game of cat and mouse.
An interesting subtext of her stories is how outer appearance influences both inner character...plus the quality of service. As "Molly" the dowdy Midwesterner, she is treated so abominably by Le Cirque as to make her alter ego protest to her dining partner - in character - about paying for glamour and being made to feel frumpy, powerless and humiliated. A return visit a short time later as herself means being singled out by the owner, other guests unceremoniously shoved aside, and told: "The King of Spain is waiting in the bar, but your table is ready."
This was an interesting account of the author's experiences as Restaurant Reviewer for the New York Times. She often went to restaurants in disguise -- complete with wig, wardrobe, heavy makeup and a character back story -- so that she could see how an "ordinary" customer would be treated. The writing is skillful and there is a good deal of literary "food porn" as she describes the various meals and dishes she's tried. She includes the formal review for the restaurant she's dishing about along with her own reflections and story. Instead of photos, the author includes her favorite recipes. Ms. Reichl is not a snobby foodie -- she eats everything from street food and jelly donuts to the most expensive restaurants in NYC, and she appears to remain very openminded toward just about anything, including inexpensive places and exotic ethnic cuisines. I've never read a book like this, but Ms. Reichl is currently a judge on Top Chef Masters, so I tried it out and have really enjoyed it. Highly recommended.
What a great book! There are really so many levels in this period of her life. From her decision to move to NY at the beginning, all the way through the last page, she undergoes not only the superficial transformations in restaurants, but in life as well. And it's not hokey at all.
There is one disguise she takes on somewhere around the middle of the book that kind of made me uncomfortable - I thought it was kinda mean. (She sees a woman on the bus or subway and thinks how sad she is, and then uses her as a character). However, she more than makes up for it for this character later on. That was my ONLY complaint, and it turned out to be unfounded.
One word of warning: I was ALWAYS hungry while I was reading this!!!! The way she describes food! Some of it is food I wouldn't even like!!!!! I mowed through Girl Scout Cookies, Wheat Thins, entire tubs of cottage cheese, and all sorts of non-gourmet goodies because she just made me SO HUNGRY! LOL. I guess that's a great tribute to her writing skills, because this is not the first wonderful memoir about cooking and food I have read. This is just the first one that cleared out my pantry :)
This was a good quick read that would be great for anyone interested in food. Some of the stories are hilarious and her descriptions of the meals she ate are so descriptive, you feel like you are eating them with her.
Finally a book that I couldn't put down. Ruth Reichl tells of her time at the NY Times as the restaurant critic. She donned lots of disguises while she reviewing restaurants. The book is both funny and informative. There are also recipes included that sound wonderful. This is one book that won't be re-posted - it's a keeper.
I've just read all three books Rachel Reichl wrote about her life. I just loved them! Easy reading, wonderful stories. It was amazing that she shared such great stories about the people she met and the life she has led. I don't read Gourmet magazine but I'm sure it is an excellent magazine. One drawback is that I want to eat, eat, eat after reading her books!
I really enjoyed reading this book, it was fun to get the inside scoop on a real live restaurant critic. I was sometimes a little put off by Ruth, to be honest. She was critical of so many people, and I kept thinking that these were people she could easily run into again. But I guess that's all part of what made her a good critic, and this was a very fun book to read.
I really enjoyed this book. I don't know what it takes to become a food critic,but this author seems to have really studied food and ingredients. The stories she tells are good especially the ones involving her drafting her friends to help her create disguises. there is some discussion of what goes on behind the scenes in the newspaper world involving food critics as well. I can only think that someone who really knows food and could be really good at undercover work would be a candidate for this job.
This was a fun summer read. It has me wanting to plan a trip to New York City to explore the varieties of find they have to offer ~ and I am known as a very picky eater. Ruth Reichl not only understands and appreciates food ~ she is a talented writer as well.
I loved Tender at the Bone but was lukewarm at best about Comfort Me with Apples so I was a little hesitant about Garlich and Sapphires. Luckily I was very pleasantly surprised by Reichl's third book. I loved her comparisons of the places she went as herself vs. how she was treated in disguise. I looked forward to each new disguise introduction and found her son's opinion of it all very funny.
Its hard to pretend to be someone and not be that person. People really react to what you look like. You yourself begin to reacting to how people react to you. What it is that people are going to think of you, the surface that we present to the world is very conscious, even when we think its not. We are always thinking about who we are in the world. Are choices are saying to the world this is how I want you so see me, the world really does see you as how you present yourself. ~ Ruth Reichl, author of Garlic and Sapphires, former restaurant critic for The New York Times, editor of Gourmet
This is my first book by this author. From someone's recommendation, I downloaded it to listen to it and LOVED it. The author reads it herself, which can sometimes be a disaster, but she did a great job. I am a bit of a foodie myself so hearing her describe some of the dishes nearly threw me over the edge. I so totally need to move to New York - or at least visit, eh? Witty, fun and a fast listen (or read I would imagine). After looking some stuff up, this is actually her 3rd memoir. I'll have to grab the other two :)
Very well written, although I don't eat like the author. I couldn't identify what she was eating, maybe that's a good thing. Has humor and I loved how it reflected how the "upper class" are treated sometimes better than the rest of us.
catsandroses reviewed Garlic and Sapphires (Audio CD) (Abridged) on
This is the third R. Reichl book I've read, and I've enjoyed them all. This was a fun read (though I wonder why I, a non-cook, always torment myself with such wonderful descriptions of food that I'll never cook myself or have the opportunity to order at a fancy restaurant!!) You can almost see/taste the food as she describes it, in this entertaining book where she puts on disguises and critiques restaurants, publishing her results in the NY Times. As a bonus, she includes lots of scrumptious recipes -- I may even attempt the delicious-sounding cheesecake one myself!
I had such a love hate roller coaster with this book! There were parts that were so long and drawn out that it was obvious that this woman wrote stories for a living. I liked parts of it though. I even laughed out loud once or twice. I was mad that she included recipes INSTEAD of pictures. What the heck?!? If I wanted recipes- I'd have grabbed a cookbook. And pictures, IMO, would have added so much dimension. I'm really on the fence with this one.
Absolutely loved this book, quickly ordered everything else Ruth has written from my library. Already passed it along to a friend, it's that good. I am not an adventurous eater, but I vicariously enjoyed many meals through this book. I also appreciated that many restaurants were called on the table for treating customers shabbily. Great read!