Book Review: Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Food Critic by Ruth Reichl

It’s summer. A time of escape and holiday. When stuck at home, what better way to escape than with a great book?

There is a particular type of book that I love: the food memoir. Stories and anecdotes punctuated with recipes. Recipes of significance, from childhood and striking occasions, recipes that evoke memories and feelings, and warmth. Sometimes detailing such intimacy you feel you are in it, and when you finish the book it is with sadness, as all of the people you got to know, disappear.

I always seek them out, and recommend them to friends. I started to wonder why I wasn’t recommending them to you, so here you are. The first review in what will be many recommendations of books that you can escape in.

Gifted to me by a friend some years ago, Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Food Critic is one of these lovely books. Authored by Ruth Reichl, ex editor of Gourmet and prior to that, critic for the NY Times, it’s a captivating read. I found it when moving flat, remembered how much I had enjoyed it and read it once more this past weekend.

Bracingly honest and moving, it details her time as the NY Times food critic. Her disguises, the characters she adopted, her relationships with colleagues, friends and family, the joy her son gets from his Mum’s costumes, her husbands honesty as he watches her become the critic, deceiving the doorman and the drama of buying the wigs. The lengths that she pushes herself to deliver anonymous trustworthy reviews is startling and very engaging. This is particularly interesting in these times, with so much debate around the celebrity status of critics, and the non anonymous reviewing of (some) critics and bloggers alike (my position is stated on my about page before you ask!).

I liked the book so much, I am going to offer one as a competition prize. I will buy a copy and send it to one of the people that comments on this post. I promise you will love it! So, leave a comment, and I will chose one at random on Friday, it’s as simple as that. Fair as always, every entrant has an equal chance of winning.

Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Food Critic

I am going to cook one of the recipes from the book next. Come back to see how it goes! :)



Written by Niamh
Cooking and travelling, and sharing it all with you.