Ruth Reichl's memoir Garlic And Sapphires has three different ways to entertain you. If you've read the previous two volumes of her memoirs, “Tender at the Bone” and “Comfort Me With Apples”, you know that she's an engaging writer who mixes reminiscences and recipes into an interesting read.
In this volume Reichl writes about her stint as the restaurant critic at the New York Times starting in 1993. For those interested in a behind the scenes look at The Gray Lady, she gives glimpses of the unglamorous digs and the political in-fighting that are part of life at this famous institution. She aims a few sharpened arrows at her predecessor, whose tastes ran more towards high end continental cuisine, and who trashed Reichl in letters to her superiors for her reviews of sushi bars and Korean fire pot joints.
But even if you have no interest in newspaper gossip, you will enjoy her descriptions of her alternate personalities. Determined to maintain her anonymity when visiting restaurants, she creates a series of elaborate disguises with a name and personality to match. It's especially touching when she disguises herself as her mother Miriam, renowned in Reichl's first memoir for her terrifyingly horrible cuisine, and feels the joy she knows her mother would have felt at a meal at the Four Seasons.
And of course if you love reading about food, you'll be entertained by her near-orgasmic descriptions of great food and her hilarious encounters with bad food and bad service. Sprinkled throughout the book are her own recipes, simple food that she enjoys preparing for her husband and son.
The book ends as Reichl, concerned that her job is causing her to lose her sense of self, leaves the Times in 1999 to become editor of Gourmet magazine. We know now that this job ended abruptly in 2009 when the magazine folded. I don't know what she's doing now, but according to internet rumor the book will be made into a movie this year.