New York Times restaurant critic Ruth Reichl reads her (only very slightly abridged) memoir with the same humor, care, and intimacy that she put into its writing. The voices of the chefs, waiters, and gourmands who taught her to love food and its preparation come to life in this audiobook. Particularly compelling is her wonderful tale of "Life on Mars"--boarding school in Montreal might well have been on another planet. We listen as her halting French becomes fluent, as she shares weekend forays for forbidden smoked meat and cream puffs (the cure for all homesickness) with her new friend, Beatrice, and as her encounter with Beatrice's father, Monsieur du Croix, introduces her to a new level of joy in food. Audiobook listeners are also treated to a handy booklet of recipes included with the tapes that represent a dish from each of the main characters we meet in Ruth's life.
For better or for worse, almost all of us grow up at the table. It is in this setting that Ruth Reichl's brilliantly written memoir takes its form. For, at a very early age, Reichl discovered that "food could be a way of making sense of the world...if you watched people as they ate, you could find out who they are."
Tender at the Bone is the story of a life determined, enhanced, and defined in equal measure by unforgettable people, the love of tales well-told, and a passion for food. In other words, the stuff of the best literature. The journey begins with Reichl's mother, the notorious food-poisoner known forevermore as the Queen of Mold, and moves on to the fabled Mrs. Peavey, one-time Baltimore socialite millionairess, and, for a brief poignant moment, retained as the Reichls' maid. Then we are introduced to Monsieur du Croix, the gourmand, who so understood and stood somewhat in awe of this prodigious child at his dinner table that when he introduced Ruth to the soufflé, he could only exclaim, "What a pleasure to watch a child eat her child eat her first soufflé!" Then, fast forward to the politically correct table set in Berkeley in the 1970s, and the food revolution that Ruth watched and participated in as organic became the norm. But this sampling doesn't do this character-rich work justice. And, after all, this is just a taste.
Tender at the Bone is a remembrance of Ruth Reichl's childhood into young adulthood, redolent with the atmosphere, good humor, and angst of a sensualist coming of age.
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