Tender at the Bone

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Tender at the Bone, by Ruth Reichl

I read Reichl's Garlic and Saphires a few years ago and really enjoyed it, and I finally got around to trying her earlier writing. I woke up hungry around midnight this week, so I got some food and started reading this book. I finished my snack, and then finished the book! It's 282 pages, and I read it all in one night. That's how much I enjoyed it.

Reichl is not only a foodie with serious street cred, but also an excellent writer. As one Amazon review said, "Ruth writes with all her senses." This book isn't so much about the food itself, but used food to explain the times, the places, and the people. She included recipes at the end of each chapter which added dimension to the story.

Essentially this is a coming-of-age story from the sixties and seventies, but don't let that scare you off: this one is actually good. Reichl's mother was manic-depressive who totally ignored food safety rules. Growing up, Reichl felt compelled to protect the family's guests from her mother's moldy dishes, which evolved into a love of good food. Her WASP-y upbringing was completely skewed because of her mother, who would do things like drop her off without warning at a French-Canadian Catholic boarding school, "so you can learn a second language!" She had went to college as far away from her family as she could, and did things like visit Tunisia, as a newlywed she shared a NY flat with others to make rent, attended Studio 54, and lived in a California commune. At its heart, this book is about growing up in a crazy time, loving your crazy friends, trying to escape crazy family members, having crazy adventures, and yet making the decision to stay sane.


Barbara said...

Oh, I really liked this book, too, Rachel! I read it a while ago and I remember laughing and cringing while reading about her mother's food foibles. It caught me completely, too.

hopeinbrazil said...

I'm glad you liked this book. I bought it recently, but haven't got around to reading it yet.

Girl Detective said...

I liked this book too, but still haven't gotten around to Comfort Me with Apples, the sequel. It's good food writing, and a good memoir in one.

hopeinbrazil said...

Hi, Rachel, It's me again responding to your comments on my blog. Yes, I do think the kids were possessed (in Turn of the Screw) because the last line in the book was something horribly gruesome like "I held his lifeless dispossesed body". (Ew!) I've been wondering about the Miss Pettigrew DVD. I'll have to watch it if it ever gets to Brazil. =)

magistramater said...

Hi Rachel,

I'm following a comment you made at Hope's blog. I loved this book - the wacky, zany lifestyle she had, the recipes tucked here and there, and the descriptions of food.

I listened to Comfort Me with Apples but haven't gotten to Garlic and Saphires yet.

I gave this book to a friend whose grandpa was certifiably crazy. He didn't enjoy the book as much because the craziness was too close to home.

Thanks for the great interview.