the kitchen reader: tender at the bone

by Stacy

This month’s selection for the Kitchen Reader was Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table by Ruth Reichl, former restaurant critic for the New York Times and editor of Gourmet magazine.

{ Side note: If you like Ruth Reichl and Anthony Bourdain whose book we read for the Foodie Book Club last month, check out their hilarious Twitter morph, Ruth Bourdain. Now with Tumblr page, too. }

Tender at the Bone is Reichl’s memoir. Her childhood is tumultuous, both enviably privileged and sadly tough. Being sent off to boarding school may sound luxurious, but it was also lonely and difficult. Having cooks and housekeepers may sound glamorous, but being cared for by others instead of her bipolar mother was not. Any pangs of jealously over trips to Paris were tempered by tales of Reichl working her way up the food(ie) chain.

She had a very interesting path to food and I was definitely drawn in by her interesting experiences as well as her storytelling ability. I didn’t expect to read about years spent in a commune or waiting tables. Retrospectively it’s obvious that her path led her to where she is now, but it was impressive how much that path wound about indirectly. My favorite moment of the book was when she was reviewing her first restaurant and her past mentors’ lessons flooded her. It was a poignant way to bring all those threads together.

It was a good read — well written, interesting content, and enough mystery for me since I didn’t know much about Reichl’s past. Someone hit our power transformer with an SUV so I actually read it mostly in one sitting and partially by candlelight. It didn’t have the same heart-to-heart feeling of A Homemade Life, but I definitely felt more sympathy for Ruth Reichl than I did for Paula Deen. Some of her other books are now on my to-read list. The only thing that bothered me, ironically, was her honesty. In the preface to the book she says that while all the events are true, it is not always factual (or something to that extent), which left me wondering at the end which characters were composites of multiple people. If I hadn’t read the introduction, I might never have known.

little blue henNever miss an update: Subscribe via RSS feed, connect on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter.
Comments? Leave them below or email me.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

katiebug June 1, 2010 at 1:46 pm

I highly recommend her memoir about her time as one of the New York Times restaurant reviewers: Garlic and Sapphires. You’d love it, I think.


Stacy June 1, 2010 at 1:59 pm

That’s the one I added to my list. =) Glad to hear it recommended from a trusted source since I’m pretty sure you have now made a good dent towards reading every book ever written by or about women.


Meryl June 2, 2010 at 7:50 am

Loved this book! Love “A Homemade Life” too!

You hit the nail on the head perfectly–her path to becoming a foodie was twisty, but fascinating.


Karen June 2, 2010 at 5:40 pm

I wasn’t familiar with Ruth’s history, either, and it was interesting indeed!


Jill June 2, 2010 at 5:56 pm

She is quite the storyteller, and I also wonder what was/wasn’t true. But I appreciate her honesty, because who could remember every detail of things they did 30 years ago? I didn’t know much about her past either, and now I’m looking forward to reading Comfort me with Apples to see what happens next!


lisa June 3, 2010 at 11:58 am

This was the first foodie memoir I read a bunch of years back and it knocked me over (loved rereading it for this month’s Kitchen Reader). Do you have others, besides Homemade Life, that you would recommend in this same genre? Thanks for the tip on “Ruth Bourdain.”


Stacy June 3, 2010 at 12:09 pm

The August pick for The Kitchen Reader is Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle which I loved. It’s not a memoir, but her writing is really lovely. I’m looking forward to reading it again and writing it up since that makes me think about the books a little bit more.

Honestly I haven’t read a ton of them which is why I wanted to join The Kitchen Reader! However, I’m really looking forward to Kathleen Flinn’s The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry, Tara Austen Weaver’s The Butcher and the Vegetarian, and Gesine Bullock-Prado’s Confections of a Closet Master Baker.


sarah June 6, 2010 at 5:42 am

I was really intrigued by the fact that she seemed so directionless at times but still managed to find the thing she loved and wanted to do. I imagine that the later books elaborate on this more. Her writing was very humourous, too, and I loved hearing her exploits.


Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

Previous post:

Next post: