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Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise (2005)

by Ruth Reichl

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Showing 1-5 of 99 (next | show all)
Really fun book. Loved the ability to take on new people. Loved the food information. ( )
  shazjhb | Sep 13, 2014 |
I loved this book. It centers on Riechl's work as the NYT restaurant critic. Her adventures trying to stay anonymous in order to provide independent, fair reviews were so fun to read about. Interspersed are recipes which I like to see in memoirs like this one. It is a sample of what they actually cook and eat on an everyday basis. It was also interesting to see the workings of a restaurant through the eyes of a professional diner. ( )
  jazzyereader | Aug 13, 2014 |
I have enjoyed all of Reichl's books. This book goes into her need to develop various disguises so she is not recognized when she is reviewing restaurants and she finds that her appearance influences many aspects of her life. ( )
  carolfoisset | May 25, 2014 |
A memoir of Reichl's days as a restaurant critic with the New York Times. This is more than just a fantasy of fine food and dining, although it is that, it is a book of self discovery. As Reichl adopts various persona and dresses up in disguises to avoid being known at the restaurants she wants to review, she discovers aspects of her character which she hadn't explored before. She describes this with humor and self-depreciation. I never thought about the process of writing up a critique of a restaurant. You would think it would be a dream job, but I can see how eating out so many times would begin to wear on a person. Especially if they had a family. As the author dressed up as older women, redheads, blondes, mousy women, she discovered that each persona was treated differently. An eye-opener to the ways wait-staff view their customers.

If you love food, and reading about food, this is a terrific book for you. Reichl knows how to describe food so that you can smell, feel, taste and see it. There are a few recipes included, but they are not by any means the focus of the book. ( )
1 vote MrsLee | Apr 2, 2014 |
I found this on the street, so I didn't have especially high hopes, but I found her writing enjoyable and compelling. I wish I could've seen photos of Reichl in her different disguises to see if she was as amazingly transformed as she claims. I also found it interesting how many of the top restaurants she mentioned in the book are now closed. ( )
  thatotter | Feb 6, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 99 (next | show all)
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For my family, all of you, with many thanks and much love.
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"You gonna eat that?" The woman is eyeing the tray the flight attendant has just set before me.
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The waiting room looked like a graveyard for rejected flower arrangements.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0143036610, Paperback)

Fans of Tender at the Bone and Comfort Me with Apples know that Ruth Reichl is a wonderful memoirist--a funny, poignant, and candid storyteller whose books contain a happy mix of memories, recipes, and personal revelations. Amazon.com Interview
We chewed the fat with Ruth. Read our interview. What they might not fully appreciate is that Reichl is an absolute marvel when it comes to writing about food--she can describe a dish in such satisfying detail that it becomes unnecessary for readers to eat. In her third memoir, Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise, Reichl focuses on her life as a food critic, dishing up a feast of fabulous meals enjoyed during her tenure at The New York Times. As a critic, Reichl was determined to review the "true" nature of each restaurant she visited, so she often dined incognito--each chapter of her book highlights a new disguise, a different restaurant (including the original reviews from the Times), and a fresh culinary adventure. Garlic and Sapphires is another delicious and delightful book, sure to satisfy Reichl's foodie fans and leave admirerers looking forward to her next book, hopefully about her life with Gourmet. --Daphne Durham

More from Ruth Reichl
Tender at the Bone
Comfort Me with Apples
The Gourmet Cookbook
Remembrance of Things Paris
Endless Feasts
Gourmet magazine


Amazon.com's The Significant Seven
Ruth Reichl answers the seven questions we ask every author.


Q: What book has had the most significant impact on your life?
A: Kate Simon’s New York Places and Pleasures. I read it as a little girl and then went out and wandered the city. She was a wonderful writer, and she taught me not only to see New York in a whole new way, but to look, and taste, beneath the surface.

Q: You are stranded on a desert island with only one book, one CD, and one DVD--what are they?
A: Ulysses by James Joyce. What better place to finally get through it?

Keith Jarrett's The Köln Concert. If you’re going to listen to one piece over and over, this is one that doesn’t get tiresome.

How to Build a Boat in Five Easy Steps. Since I’m going to be watching one movie over and over, it might as well be useful.

Q: What is the worst lie you've ever told?
A: I’m such a good liar, I wouldn’t know where to begin.

Q: Describe the perfect writing environment.
A: I can write pretty much anywhere. But I prefer small, cozy spaces, with a good view over a lake or a forest, and room for the cats to curl up.

Q: If you could write your own epitaph, what would it say?
A: "She’ll be right back."

Q: Who is the one person living or dead that you would like to have dinner with?
A: Elizabeth I. She fascinates me. She had a great mind, enormous appetites--and she was a survivor. The most interesting woman of an interesting time, and I have a million questions I’d like to ask her.

Q: If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
A: You mean after creating world peace? This is a hard one. But I’ve always wanted to be able to fly.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:45:39 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

The editor-in-chief of "Gourmet" recounts her visits to some of the world's most acclaimed restaurants, both as herself and as an anonymous diner in disguise, to offer insight into the differences in her dining experiences.

» see all 4 descriptions

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