Tender at the Bone

Tender at the Bone - Ruth Reichl This is a memoir built around food--and as Reichl put it, she decided that instead of pictures she'd give recipes throughout to paint a picture of her relationships. The Author's Note tells us, "Everything here is true, but it may not be entirely factual. In some cases I have compressed events; in others I have made two people into one. I have occasionally embroidered." That sort of thing usually bugs the hell out of me. It didn't here. Maybe because Reichl was open about it from the beginning--maybe just because she's such an engaging writer and personality. She said she didn't want to get in the way of a good story, and she's a good enough storyteller and more that I forgive her. The book wasn't found in the biography section of my neighborhood bookstore, but rather in the cookbook section, in "food writing." So, you might expect you have to be a real foodie to love this--yet I'm not really and yet did love it. Part of that is that this is a lot more than an ode to food. A lot more. It's about growing up in New York City's Washington Heights in the early 60s, and a boarding school in Montreal, and coming to adulthood in Michigan in late sixties and early seventies Berkeley California. It's about travels to Tunisia and Greece, Italy and France. It's about dealing with a crazy mother, the deterioration of a cherished friendship and love. It's tender, yes--in more than one sense. And often quite funny. I found myself very much amused at the picture of the very hippie era. Oh, and there is the food. And she has a gift in describing it and connecting it to her life. Here's her description of her first taste of Brie: "I felt Monsieur du Croix watching as I ate the strong, slippery cheese. It was so powerful I felt the tips of my ears go pink." She gives us not just the taste, but the colors, the sensations. This was just so fun to read on several different levels. Highly recommended.