"Garlic & Sapphires" by Ruth Reichl - a Review

I used to live in the Caribbean on a boat in Trellis Bay – above.  Sometimes on visits home to the UK I would mention this and people would accuse me of being lucky.  This was not the case; it was not luck that took me to the Caribbean it was a decision to go followed by appropriate action.  (And incidentally I was very poor at the time, getting there left me with just $8 in the world!)

Reading of Ruth Reichl’s wonderful sounding career I nearly said she was lucky but I think not.  More accurately Ruth Reichl is talented, hard working and resourceful.  Either way her fab lifestyle makes me jealous.  In a nutshell she played dressing up and then ate in wonderful restaurants whilst pretending to be someone else – and she got paid for it. 

Her book, “Garlic and Sapphires ~ The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise” is a lovely read; interesting, funny, informative and foodie with several recipes scattered amongst its pages.

Ruth Reichl was the restaurant critic for the New York Times and therefore very recognisable to restaurateurs, hence the need for a disguise.   She found her dining experiences when dressed as a “nobody” very different from those when dining as herself.  Which is, of course, reprehensible.  On many occasions when working as a chef I have been told that so-and-so was in house so to make sure to go the extra mile, so to speak.   This always got up my goat (as we say in my family!).  Surely the idea is to do your best at all times not just do second rate work unless someone “important” comes in.  It seems, however, that this attitude is not the norm in the restaurant business.

Anyhoo – I heartily recommend this book, give it a go – you can get it from Amazon. or visit Ruth Reichl’s own site here where there are details of her other books; “Tender at the Bone”,  “Comfort me with Apples” and “For you Mom, Finally” which I shall certainly be looking out for.

Speaking of books about food I have written a few cookbooks myself - here's my Amazon Author Page (just in case you're interested!).

In other news …

My friend Jenny of JennyEatwell's Rhubarb & Ginger has pointed out a rather lovely spam comment that I received in connection with my recent post on yukky gnocchi.  Very nicely put I thought.  Coincidentally it reminds me of my research into krumplinudli which are the same sort of things as gnocchi - perhaps it is a side effect

Here it is verbatim, I cannot see how it pertains to my blog but I am glad they took the trouble to write ~ enjoy …

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Kavey said...

I read and reviewed this book earlier in the year, and like you, really enjoyed it.
It's easy to fall into the "lucky them" mentality, and I can't say I'm completely free of doing so myself, but I do try to remember that, much of the time, it's not luck but determination, talent, hard work or the like.
I used to get the same refrain myself from colleagues who would mutter about the extensive travelling we did in our holidays, and how they wished they could do same. At first I pointed out that they earned the same or more than me, paid less in rent or mortgage than me but chose to spend their money on handbags and shoes, an inordinate amount of music, going out to bars multiple times a week... after a while I gave up and decided to let them think it was just down to "luck"!

sarah said...

I am neither famous nor rich, but I hope that I am getting served good food at restaurants and with good service. I guess reading Reichl's book left me a bit disillusioned about fancy restaurants. I see that she did a good service during her time as the NYT reviewer because she pinpointed places where anyone could get a good meal.