Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl

Garlic and Sapphires is all about the New York Times food critic’s journey from the  L.A. Times to the new position she held for 6 years in New York (an unwanted one at that…. and how she tried to blow the interview!).  Ruth Reichl learns quickly that in New York the restaurants have been learning about her months before she has arrived into her new job.  Rumor has it they even have her picture posted in the restaurants so everyone can be aware when she enters.  A flight to New York gives Ruth time to come up with a plan….

With the help of a family friend, clothing, make up and wigs, Ruth is morphed into several alter egos:

Molly Hollis:  A larger older woman, bland in her clothing choices

Miriam:  The creation of her own mother

Chloe:  A blond bomb shell who dresses to the nines, with red nails and lipstick to match

Brenda:  The earth mother

By utilizing these different disguises, Ruth is able to dine in the restaurant she wishes to review without fear of being recognized or receiving special treatment…. in fact, with each disguise, she learns how the restaurants really treat their everyday customers… in some cases poorly, and in other cases – remarkably well.  Ruth’s reviews lead her to be the most influential restaurant critic int he country, but it was hard-earned.

I always thought being a restaurant critic would be pretty glam.  Eating at wonderful establishments, waiters fawning over you bringing you the best dishes to eat… but Ruth shares the dark side of her job as well, such as hate mail, angry restaurant owners, and even trouble sleeping at times, fearing if she went to far….

I loved this book.  I picked it up from my library yesterday and this morning after I took care of a few home projects I settled into my cozy chair  with a blanket and let the life of a restaurant critic both amaze and delight me.  I enjoyed how Ruth came up with her many disguises, her funny restaurant happenings, and the opinions of her husband and five-year old son.  I really enjoyed reading the story of the restaurant and the follow-up with the actual New York Times Review.  Every so often Ruth wold drop in a recipe as well which has inspired me to do a little food creating myself – which for me is a rare occurrence!

I never knew I would enjoy a book like this but I am so glad I read it.   Ruth’s writing is fun, down to earth, and filled with facts I never knew about food and cooking.  (note to self:  wasabi has a smoother and milder taste than shaved fresh as opposed to the powdered version).

Truly a delight that I would recommend to any food lovers.  Thank you to Michelle at Red Headed Book Child for posting about this book earlier this week and bring it to my attention.  I would love to read this author again.

Amazon Rating

Book Journey has updated the 2010 Reading Map to include Garlic and Sapphires

Cover Story:  It is appropriate for the book… although it would have been cool to have either her face peeking out or maybe Ruth in the center surrounded by pictures of her alter ego’s

I borrowed this book from my local library

18 thoughts on “Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl

  1. A friend has recommend Reichl to me, though I’ve not yet had a chance to read her books. I love the sound of this, but I might be tempted to read her earlier books first–I have her first one on my shelves somewhere.

  2. I loved this book. Believe it or not, I was just wondering about re-reading all Reichl’s books on audio. I know this one is on audio, but I’m not sure about the others. I agree that she has a very approachable writing style.

  3. This looks like a great book. I thought I had heard of Ruth Reichl in connection with some other book (can’t remember what), but it must have been this book. I would love to get this for Christmas!

  4. This sounds like a fun read! I think I read the book about the food critic who came after her – Frank Bruni and it was also really interesting. I had no idea who involved being a restaurant critic was!

  5. I loved this book too. I was surprised at how much she really got into her characters – especially when she dressed like her mother. I tried some of the recipes too. The NY Cheesecake is absolute perfection.

    I’ve read one other of her books. I don’t remember the title but it was the one of the time before Garlic and Sapphires. It covered her first marriage and how she got into food writing. It was very personal. I’m with Candice/Beth. I’d love to read them all over again.

  6. I am late in reading this thanks to some classes but after reading this…..I am wondering why did it not attract my attention before….maybe because I can not cook….and can not eat most of the things cooked [tasty things…..spicy chicken….sweet goodies…..COOKIES…. !]
    But seriously this book sounds amazing and a totally novel approach if I have ever seen one. Cudos to the author on the idea itself and as for the book I will try to control my taste buds and order it as soon as I am off this PC.

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