Tender at the Bone

Ruth Reichl

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This account of Reichl’s early years is a compelling story of an unusual childhood. Her experiences include a stint in a Canadian boarding school where she learned French, to time in a commune in San Francisco. Always food is at the center of her life, whether preparing it or eating it with friends. I think having read her tribute to her mother colored my reading of this book. Her mother suffered from mental illness, and Reichl’s understanding of her mother’s state after her death, gave a light-hearted and amusing slant that she portrays differently in her later account.

The book is interspersed with fascinating and delicious recipes for dishes that I will never cook but enjoy reading about.

 

Julie & Julia

Julie Powell

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I never read Julie’s blog, and I never saw the movie, but I read about it. So when the book was listed for $1.99 I figured it was worth a try. I’m glad I bought it, because it is an entertaining account of one woman’s obsession with cooking every recipe in Julia Child’s magnum opus, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Setting aside one year to accomplish this feat, Julie bravely begins with page one and works her way through all 524 recipes. It’s a wonder she and her husband didn’t die from high cholesterol eating all this rich food

An amusing account of what started so light-heartedly and came to be a way of coping with a dead-end job, the trauma of living in New York during 9/11, and trying to cook in a tiny kitchen which was never designed for this. Day by day, week by week, she works her way through the book, sharing with us her failures and successes, until she at last emerges, a sadder but wiser women, at the end.

 

Delights and Prejudices

James Beard

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This book, written in 1964, hasn’t aged well. As a memoir with recipes, it fulfills neither of its functions very well. His memories of his mother, who introduced him to great cooking and set him on his way, are interrupted by rambling accounts of his travels and later experiences as a chef and writer. The recipes are dated and the memoir is unsatisfying. I know James Beard’s place in the pantheon is cook is secure, but this book made me wonder why.