One of the book I borrowed from my friends for my Hawaiian vacation was called Garlic and Sapphires, it was written by Ruth Reichl who is the current editor at Gourmet magazine and was the NY Times food critic prior to that. This book details her journey and tenure at the renowned paper. Throughout the book she features some of her reviews, the stories that went into generating the reviews (including her disguises) and some favorite recipes.
I really enjoyed her stories, I thought she was a great food critic because she had a way of describing food that could make you visualize it and almost taste it. I felt like the story was dry at times with no particular story line or outcome–and while there was some of Ruth’s personal stories and professional development I felt like it was hard to tell if she had really changed. Had she learned any real lessons from her stories and experiences? I am sure she did, but it wasn’t really carried through in the story.
Although there was one particular part of her tales that really stuck with me. As a food critic her job is to review fancy restaurants (obviously), in some special restaurants (ones, that to me sounded like the space needle or canlis in the Seattle area) where lesser fortunate people save up their money for one memorable night in these places. When she would tell these stories of how these people acted and were treated in these places (not by her per se, but wait staff, etc) my heart just ached. See, growing up we were so poor and Red Lobster was the nicest restaurant that we ever went to as kids. When I finally got older I remember saving my money to attend these types of fancy establishments–not knowing what fork to use, the difference between one wine or another (I am still not particularly good at this), and being confused by the ingredients in the entree descriptions. I also remember being treated just like those people. Of course now, that would never happen–I am almost always treated with respect and I have eaten enough different kinds of foods in fancy places that I don’t feel out of place anymore. Although reading the book certainly took me back to that place and helped me remember those feelings.
On a positive note though, some of the recipes look downright delicious. I can’t wait to make the lamb dinner, which includes carmelized brussel sprouts and scalloped potatoes. I am hoping to do that this weekend and if it turns out I will post pictures and recipes.