It is fairly strange reading a memoir about the height of the subject’s fame and realizing you contributed to it, that you were part of the reason that Reichl’s semi-dreaded “cult of Ruth” took place. But the way that Reichl feels about Gourmet magazine is how I feel about her writing. She writes about the early childhood infatuation with the magazine – the swordfish adorning a 1950’s cover beckoning her to delve deeper and read “the night of lobster” which transports the young Reichl and sets her on a culinary path.
Well, that was Garlic and Sapphires for me. I read about a restaurant critic who not only went in disguise but created personas for her reviews/reviewers, and that was it for me. I love Anthony Bourdain, another cooking writer who inspired a thousand food writing careers, but I related so much more to the discerning, sumptuous, humble Reichl than chef culture’s bad boy turned world traveler, much as I loved him. Reichl loves food, and loves writing, so I loved her.
As a card carrying member of the cult of Ruth, I’ll read anything with her name on it and this is no exception, her writing is superb as always. Her tale of taking over editing Gourmet is well written and entertaining, as expected; if there’s one flaw it is of time distortion – the first year seems to take up 3/4 of the book – but that is me nitpicking an author whose biggest flaw is not writing enough. I want more, and wish Gourmet was still around to give me a weekly Reichl fix.