Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table Paperback – May 25 2010
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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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Reichl discovered early on that since she wasn't "pretty or funny or sexy," she could attract friends with food instead. But that initiative isn't likely to secure her an audience for her chaotic, self-satisfied memoirs, although her restaurant reviews in the New York Times are popular. Reichl's knack for describing food gives one a new appreciation for the pleasures of the table, as when she writes here: "There were eggplants the color of amethysts and plates of sliced salami and bresaola that looked like stacks of rose petals left to dry." But when she is recalling her life, she seems unable to judge what's interesting. Raised in Manhattan and Connecticut by a docile father who was a book designer and a mother who suffered from manic depression, Reichl enjoyed such middle-class perks as a Christmas in Paris when she was 13 and high school in Canada to learn French. But her mother was a blight, whom Reichl disdains to the discomfort of the reader who wonders if she exaggerates. The author studied at the University of Michigan, earned a graduate degree in art history, married a sculptor named Doug, lived in a loft in Manhattan's Bowery and then with friends bought a 17-room "cottage" in Berkeley, Calif., which turned into a commune so self-consciously offbeat that their Thanksgiving feast one year was prepared from throwaways found in a supermarket dumpster. Seasoning her memoir with recipes, Reichl takes us only through the 1970s, which seems like an arbitrary cutoff, and one hopes the years that followed were more engaging than the era recreated here.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Not Reichl. She just adapts. Her disfunctional mother, for example, is a not only a disinterested cook, she's an actively abusive one. "It was just the way she was. Which was taste-blind and unafraid of rot. 'Oh, it's just a little mold,' I can remember her saying on the many occasions she scraped the fuzzy blue stuff off some concoction before serving what was left for dinner."
Against this background Reichl chronicles her own development as gourmet and gourmand -- a remarkable and fascinating transition. She presents a delectable collection of stories about people and food (recipes included) as she works toward her destiny as a famous food writer.
I was deeply disturbed about her presentation of her mother as a manic depressive, frightening personality. I'd have been much more comfortable -- and might have even been amused by it -- if that villainy had been presented in the character of a grandmother or aunt. Mothers, I feel, deserve all the respect we can give them! I had to get over it to enjoy the book.
That faced, the scenes where she and her brother try to protect guests from their mother's food foibles lend a riotous humor to the story.
When she brings a special man to meet her family, "Mom cooked the steaks in her usual fashion, which was to put the meat in the broiler for about a minute, turn it, and announce that dinner was ready. 'It's raw,' Doug whispered, gulping. He ate six ears of corn and pushed his meat around on the plate."
Don't expect lovely, literary prose. Reichl is, after all, a journalist, which means the prose is as lean as a trimmed lamb chop. Do expect an amusing romp through growing-up adventures, friendships and food.
This book, 'Tender at the Bone' is the first of two memoirs by Reichl. Their charm will be eagerly anticipated by anyone who reads Reichl's monthly editor's column in 'Gourmet'. These two books are cut from the same primal stuff, with the additional spice of material too personal to warrant the pages of a national magazine.
Reichl grew up with a mother with habits which offer as compelling a motive to land in the food business as the very skillful cook / hospitality businesswoman who bore James Beard. In Reichl's case, her mother was just the opposite. She was quite capable of serving food so poorly preserved as to poison her guests. Reichl, as a little girl, had to become skillful in preparing food just to protect her own life and the lives of visitors to her family's house.
In many other regards, as one reads this tale of Ruth's life as a small girl in the early 1960s through her start in culinary journalism in San Francisco in 1977 just at the time when the zeitgeist was leading people such as Alice Waters and Jeremiah Tower to create California Cuisine at Chez Panisse and other venues.
Two fascinating questions are raised in my mind by this book and its sequel 'Comfort Me with Apples'. The first is what it is about Reichl that compels her to reveal so many intimate details about her life and family.Read more ›
Her descriptive details and life reflecting commentary give an instant understanding of the author's experiences. Which include living with a neglectful father and manic-depressive mother. The catchy dialogue between characters leads the reader deeper into the book. With each page more connections are made between people, what they eat and how food can dictate our emotions. Ruth suggests that good times and good food co-exist, while those experiences that are unpleasant involve less appetizing meals.
Growing up constantly shielding herself, and her friends, from her mother's food makes Ruth a very unique person. Ruth discusses how her mother's illness often drove her crazy and made her paranoid about having friends over or throwing parties. When she is old enough she leaves town; going to college and eventually living on her own. It is then that she meets her husbands, travels throughout Europe, and becomes a "food guru."
There are always interesting and slightly odd things occurring throughout the duration of this book. Ruth gets slightly crazy, eats rotten food, digs through garbage and does several other eccentric things.
From youth to adulthood and all the recipes in between, this book never falls short. Ruth Reichl's, Tender at the Bone- Growing Up at the Table, is an excellent read, and well worth the paper it is printed on.
Most recent customer reviews
Great book for those who love food and good literature. Ruth Reichl writes about growing up with a mother who is bipolar, and describes an interesting, sometimes chaotic, life,... Read morePublished on April 5 2011 by Susanne Rosebrock
I found the authors travels more interesting than her descriptions of eating or cooking. Much of her cooking tales personally turned my stomach. Read morePublished on June 19 2004 by Sarah Sammis
A memoir about a food writers coming of age through her experiences with food. Her descriptions of food are tantalizing and the recipes sprinkled throughout tempting. Read morePublished on April 10 2004 by J. Jacobs
Overall, TENDER AT THE BONE is a lovely coming-of-age story with hilarious vignettes that could be woven into a heart-warming comedic drama. Read morePublished on Dec 22 2003 by JunkyardMessiah
Funny family innuendos meets pleasant field trips on culinary excursions. A great little story about growing up and discovering the rewarding, sometimes almost sinful, pleasures of... Read morePublished on Oct. 28 2003 by Kirsten E. Walker
i don't eat any animal products, and there are only two or three recipes in this book that i can even relate to, but despite this, i love this book. Read morePublished on April 11 2003 by Kim
Reading this book was a pleasure. Ms. Reichl is an amazingly sensual writer. Her stories are emotional, funny and very interesting. Read morePublished on Feb. 26 2003 by Romantic Anna
Ruth Reichl can cook, she can edit, and she can write.
This is an engaging story of growing up with a bi-polar mother in the era before the condition had a name or treatment... Read more