Garlic and Sapphires

Garlic and Sapphires

The Secret Life of A Critic in Disguise

Book - 2005
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Penguin Putnam
This delicious new volume of Ruth Reichl's acclaimed memoirs recounts her "adventures in deception," as she goes undercover in the world's finest restaurants. Reichl knows that "to be a good restaurant critic, you have to be anonymous," but when she signs up to be the most important restaurant critic in the country, at The New York Times, her picture is posted in every four-star, low-star, and no-star kitchen in town. Managers offer cash bonuses for advance notice of her visits. They roll out the red carpet whether she likes it or not. What's a critic in search of the truth to do?

Reichl dons a frumpy blond wig and an off-season beige Armani suit. Then on the advice of a friend, an acting coach with a Pygmalion complex, she begins assembling her new character's backstory. She takes to the assignment with astonishing ardor-and thus Molly Hollis, the retired high school teacher from Birmingham, Michigan, nouveau riche from her husband's real estate speculation, is born. And duly ignored, mishandled, and condescended to by the high-power staff at Le Cirque. The result: Reichl's famous double review, first as she ate there as Molly and then as she was coddled and pampered on her visit there as Ruth, The New York Times food critic.

When restaurateurs learn to watch for Molly, Reichl buys another wig and becomes someone else, and then someone else again, from a chic interior decorator to an eccentric redhead on whom her husband-both disconcertingly and reassuringly-develops a terrible crush. As she puts on her disguises, she finds herself changed not just superficially, but in character. She becomes Molly the schoolmarm, Chloe the seductress, and Brenda the downtown earth mother-and imagine the complexities when she dines out as Miriam, her own mother. As Reichl metes out her critical stars, she gives a remarkable account of how one's outer appearance can influence one's inner character, expectations, and appetites.

Reichl writes, "Every restaurant is a theater...even the modest restaurants offer the opportunity to become someone else, at least for a little while." Dancing with the Stars examines character, artifice, and excellence on the sumptuously appointed stages of the restaurant world and offers an unprecedented backstage tour of the theater where Ruth Reichl played the role of a lifetime, as the critic of record at The New York Times.

Baker & Taylor
A new installment in the Gourmet editor-in-chief's series of memoirs recounts her visits to some of the world's most acclaimed restaurants, both as herself and as an anonymous diner in disguise, to offer insight into how her dining experiences changed according to her character and whether or not she was recognized. By the author of Comfort Me with Apples. 100,000 first printing.

& Taylor

The editor-in-chief of "Gourmet" recounts her visits to some of the world's most acclaimed restaurants, both as herself and as an anonymous diner in disguise, to offer insight into the differences in her dining experiences.

Publisher: New York : Penguin Press, 2005
ISBN: 9781594200311
Characteristics: 333 p. ; 25 cm


From the critics

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Aug 13, 2018

Not the best book I have read by this author. I love her recipes though (when I cook them) but didn't enjoy as much as I would have liked to. Did not like the actual review incerpts at all. I think this is partially why the newspaper has never been a favorite read of mine. A little disappointed but committed to follow Riechl to the end. I didn't like the condescending feelings during her "dress up" times--that baffled and angered me. Finally crossing this one off my "Books To Read" list. (I'm clapping for at least that accomplishment).

Apr 28, 2018

Including the reviews makes for some redundancy. While nominally about food, the book is more about finding the possibilities in your life -- for good or ill -- and making the best of them.

May 03, 2017

Funny & enthralling. The disguises vary from a silver-haired, blue-dressed, pearl-wearing, no-nonsense mother incarnation of the author, to "Brenda" a frizzy-haired redhead who is a hippy fashionista whom the author's son thought was more cheerful and fun than his real mother, to "Chloe" a blonde clad in a black silk suit who (with the approval of the author's husband) goes on a dinner date with a pompous fool named Dan that lasts for three and a half hours of continual eating. Other disguises I will not reveal! Highly recommended!

cmlibrary_lmansfield Oct 25, 2016

A delightful memoir; a great read for anyone with an interest in food, NYC, or writing. Ruth, a food critic, describes the different personalities and costumes she adopted to disguise herself while dining in New York. Includes recipes and reviews she wrote for the NYT.

CMLibrary_sdeason May 18, 2016

This is a wonderful non-fiction about a love of food and an evaluation of how we are treated. It is a unique view of the restaurant business.

Oct 08, 2015

I really enjoy this woman's descriptions of foods and restaurants, in addition to her loving and compassionate attitude towards her family and friends. She's a good writer who always makes me hungry, always inspires me to get in the kitchen and try something new and makes me a little envious, but in a good way!

Aug 01, 2014

I thought my days of reading until dawn were long over. This book proved me wrong. It is a page turner. I would never have thought a memoir could be that. What a wonderful book. I already have two other books that she's waiting on hold. Enjoy!

flowerpainter Jun 03, 2013

This is my favorite book. Ruth Reichl tells her story and one may laugh out loud and truly enjoy the ride.

yve168 Aug 15, 2012

What can i say about this book, except that i simply loved it. she made you feel as if you were in the restaurants with her eating all of that great food. it is one i would recommend highly to others

Jul 08, 2012

Very entertaining! Reads like fiction.

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