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Pete Bevin (Toronto, Ontario Canada)

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Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise
Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise
by Ruth Reichl
Edition: Hardcover
48 used & new from CDN$ 1.85

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More than food, June 8 2005
I first heard about Ruth Reichl's book after hearing her interviewed on CBC Radio. She was talking about the vast difference in the way restaurants would treat her when they recognised her as the New York Times restaurant critic compared to when she went in disguise - and she was encouraging people to stand up for their rights and insist on being well treated when they went out, something that most people don't do.
The book is about food and restaurants - but much more than that. It's about the different aspects of your personality that come out when you're someone else, and how life-alterning those experiences can be. From a nondescript, middle aged woman, to a seductive redhead, to an acerbic shrew, Ruth Reichl describes her transformations, how they exposed different parts of herself that she never knew about, and for better or worse, how they changed her.
Reichl isn't afraid to say what she thinks of people. At one moment she can be sublimely sensitive and loving towards someone in a way that reminds me of June Callwood at her best, and the next, describing in detail the dinner companion from hell at the top of the World Trade Center. She is also frank about herself - how idealistically she started out, how the job changed her, and what she thought of herself for it.
One of the marks of a really good dish is that you discover something fresh about it every time you try it. In the same way, Ruth Reichl tells the same story in each chapter, but each time she reveals a little more about herself.
This is one of just a few books I've read recently that made me feel disappointed to find there weren't any pages left at the end.

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