Monday, November 27, 2006

Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl

This book is like a fairy tale. It's the story of Ruth Reichl, a woman who has landed her dream job. Reichl is the restaurant critic for the New York Times, and before she even starts the job she discovers she has stepped into a fairy tale world, where she has to be one step ahead of the New York City restauranteurs who are eager to spot her and give her the very best possible food and treatment their establishment can offer.

It was fascinating to get a glimpse into the privileged life of the restaurant critic. While it sounds incredibly cushy to get paid to eat free meals in the best restaurants of one of the world's biggest, most multicultural cities, it can have its down sides and they are discussed in a very entertaining way in Garlic and Sapphires. Reichl resorts to a series of clever disguises to fool the restaurant owners so she can have the "normal" dining experience of an average patron, and she finds that as she puts on the wigs, the makeup and the specially chosen clothing she seems to also don a new persona. Reading about her dining experiences both as herself and her various alter egos was quite fascinating; the writing is rich and evocative, and I found myself drooling as I read the descriptions of incredible meals I will probably never be able to afford to eat.

If you like to read a good memoir, love food or are just curious about what it's like to be a restaurant critic for one of the world's biggest newspapers, I recommend this book.

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