Book Review: Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl

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The life of The New York Times restaurant critic is a dream come true for many food bloggers and writers, but is it all it’s cracked up to be?

I’ve had my eye on this book for some time. I’ve always wondered how posh the life of a food critic is. Think about it – people know who you are and why you walked into their restaurant, so of course they’re going to treat you like royalty… right?

Not always.

Ruth discusses how passe the LA Times food critic position was. No restaurant in LA cared about who she was or what she did. So when The New York Times came knocking, she accepted (with some internal and emotional struggle) and moved her family back to her stomping grounds.

But moving back to New York City was a completely different career compared to LA. People not only recognized her, they were pursuing her, rewarding each other if they could spot her in a restaurant. Ruth is then tasked with the ethical decision of how to write a restaurant review when it’s obvious that she’s getting “special treatment.”

Enter the disguises – why not transform into something that people won’t know? This, by far, was my favorite part of this book. Ruth’s various characters turn into this interesting psychological dilemma in which she finds out that each one is an exaggerated form of herself. Brenda is the carefree, happy hippie side, while Emily is the bitch from another planet that nobody wants to be around. Which one does she want to be? Or is she all of them?

Ruth ends the novel with her decision of what to do next with her life. It wasn’t that being the NYT food critic wasn’t fulfilling enough, but when your job requires you to eat out all the time and you have a family asking you to stay home for dinner, at some point you become conflicted.

I highly suggest reading this book if you have food or writing interests. Solid Gold Eats gives Garlic and Sapphires 4.5 out of 5 stars!

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