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Insatiable: Tales from a Life of Delicious Excess

3.01  ·  Rating Details  ·  521 Ratings  ·  121 Reviews
With her passion for fine food and, above all, her appetite for love and life, Gael Greene traces her rise from a Velveeta cocoon in the Midwest to powerful critic of New York magazine. Love and food, foreplay and fork play, haute cuisine and social history--all become inextricably linked as the author lifts the lid on her most provocative subject yet--herself. Along the w ...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published April 11th 2007 by Grand Central Publishing (first published 2006)
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Jenny (Reading Envy)
Dec 22, 2015 Jenny (Reading Envy) rated it liked it
Recommended to Jenny (Reading Envy) by: Alyssa Shelasky in Apron Anxiety
Shelves: foodie, read2015
"A woman does well to be beautiful, mysterious, haunting, witty, rich, and exotic in bed... but it never hurts to cook good."

After having this book on my bedside table for a few weeks, I finally sat and read the second half. Gael Greene is known to some of us as a guest judge on Top Chef Masters, but many know her from decades as the Insatiable Critic for New York Magazine (at least ten years of articles can be read on her website. Her memoir is dotted with recipes and stuffed with sexual encoun
Sep 08, 2008 G-- rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoir-food
If Reichl's memoirs were a nourishing meal, then Greene's is a bag of chips. Reichl's trilogy about her life in food is ultimately about developing relationships, and discovering how to make a meaningful life.

Greene's book, in contrast, reads as a series of lists 1) foods she has eaten 2) men she has slept with 3) celebrities she has known. There is no real character development, nor any personal insights.

True, she has enjoyed amazing, sumptious meals, but to what end? There is no meaning to h
Aug 25, 2010 Maggie rated it really liked it
I'm sure it's easy to dislike Gael Greene. Too visceral, too confessional, too... much. Me, though? I can't help but like her. I like her breeze and her boldness and, well, her balls. She resides on the opposite side of my heart from Ruth Reichl. She's less a cook and more a show-woman than Ruth. She's less about where the rest of us eat, and more about where we should eat. Ruth is my everywoman, but I have some Gael in there, too ... no question about it. We shouldn't have to choose between Rut ...more
Jul 28, 2011 Debra rated it it was ok
Shelves: just-a-book
I actually started out really enjoying this book. The recipes, the food she described, the one night stand w/ Elvis….but my infatuation w/ the book….unlike Ms Greene’s infatuation w/ herself….soon faded. I quickly grew tired of her telling us over and over again how ‘ahead of its time’ her writing was, in what position she had sex w/ what man (all in the cause of saving her marriage, of course) and what restaurant (I’d never heard of) stole what chef (I’d also never heard of) from what unsuspect ...more
Jun 08, 2009 dejamo rated it it was ok
Disappointing. Greene is awfully impressed with her own bad self and reveals all kinds of distasteful tidbits about her ethics as a journalist and restaurant reviewer. She confesses each peccadillo as if, by confessing alone, she is exonerated and can travel through the rest of her life with a clear conscience.

Oh, and she had a lot of sex with a lot of (many of them famous) men (starting with Elvis!), and ate a lot of really really good expensive food in New York, Paris, and the rest of the worl
Dixie Theriault
Aug 27, 2009 Dixie Theriault rated it it was amazing
I became interested in reading this book after watching the entire Bravo series called Top Chef Masters, which is a reality show that pits professional chefs against each other as they cook their way to a one hundred thousand dollar prize for their favorite charity and the honorary title of being a "Top Chef Master" (which by the way, went to Chef Rick Bayless on the season finale.)

Author Gael Greene is also one of a panel of three judges on the show who get to taste the culinary endeavors each
Jan 02, 2010 Nancy rated it did not like it
I only made it half way through this book before losing interest. I thought it would be a fun foodie read and it is to some extent but there's a lot of focus on her "affairs" with celebrities. Which doesn't really interest me that much, I guess now I know that Burt Reynolds was a good lover but seriously, why would I want to know that?
Apr 21, 2011 G-phy added it
meh. It started out much stronger than it ended. The parts were she had sex with Burt Reynolds and Steve McQueen were worth reading.
This book made me alternately hungry and bored. I think I would have enjoyed it more if a) I lived in New York, and b) had lived there during the 60's and 70's, which makes up the majority of the book. I did not recognize a lot of the names and places that the author describes.

However, her personal story of love, sex, and ultimately food was funny and interesting. I longed for a plane ticket to New York, France, or Italy, (preferably all three) when reading her descriptions of the fabulous food.
Oct 07, 2008 Kim rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 22, 2011 Faith rated it it was ok
Halfway through this book, a few things are apparent: Gael Greene knows food, loves to talk foie gras, and we'll never get out of the 70s.

I purchased a used copy of Insatiable because of its subtitle, “Tales from a Life of Delicious Excess.” I had no prior knowledge of Greene, but was sold on the prospect of living vicariously and decadently through this woman's life.

Greene is an expert on dishes I can't pronounce, wines that may never grace my lips, and she goes into intricate details about vir
Oct 05, 2009 Amie rated it really liked it
Gael Greene certainly delivers on her promise of tales from a life of excess. From the racy bits (starring Elvis, Burt Reynolds, Clint Eastwood, a 70s porn star, and a whole multitude of major restaurant players) to the truly decadent tours through France's finest shuttled on a Moet & Chandon private jet, Greene has lived enough for several lifetimes. A good balance between her personal life and a who's who/culinary history of New York. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this, knowing my life is u ...more
Hardcover Hearts
May 30, 2009 Hardcover Hearts rated it liked it
I do love reading about eating and cooking, which is probably why I own so many cookbooks myself. I liked her culinary adventures, though this lady loves some organ meats. Gross... I found this similar to Ruth Riechl's books, but I think I liked Ruth's stories a bit better. I did enjoy Gael's lusty approach to both food and men and that was wicked fun to read.

But I found her aspirations for material status to be off putting in their clear superficiality. She stressed that having another mink coa
Jun 25, 2008 Stephanie rated it liked it
Shelves: book-club
This started out really good, then got a little dense, so I was worried, but then it got really good again. I felt like I couldn't put it down, although it seemed to take forever to finish. It was just really dense, with a lot of information, but I loved her writing style and how she speaks. I loved seeing the evolution of the foodie craze, and I actually felt sad toward the end -- it seems like the restaurant world has lost something. But I guess there are new and good things now, right? There ...more
Jul 18, 2014 Brittney rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoirs, food
I enjoyed Greene's juicy sex gossip and brazen un-self-consciousness -- for a while. But by the end of the book even the author seemed to get bored, and was merely rattling off lists of chefs, restaurants, discos, and lovers. Or perhaps it just seemed that way because I, the reader, was merely skimming. Read the first half on the beach somewhere (somewhere with good restaurants nearby), then forget it in your hotel room.
Jun 12, 2011 Mainon rated it liked it
Not the best, but far from the worst, food book I've read in the past year. There's a lot of sex, a lot of delicious-sounding food, and a lot of dish (pun intended) about various characters in the food world from the sixties through the nineties. This straddles (oh no, not another pun) two genres well: the first is the nitty-gritty look at the food world and its inhabitants (somewhat à la Anthony Bourdain) and the other is the typical Hollywood-actress-style tell-all/sexposé. The latter might be ...more
May 26, 2016 Chris rated it it was amazing
What a great book! A tour of New York City and the world in general through the eyes of the food critic of New York magazine. This lady knew how to live! Part personal soap opera/part in-depth history of the NYC restaurant and nightclub scene of the 70s, 80s, and 90s. To use food references that might be at home in one of the author's reviews: juicy, unexpected, delicious!

If you are a fan of NYC jet-set society, ladies-who-lunch, etc... this is a must-read.
Maria Raynal
Aug 20, 2008 Maria Raynal rated it it was ok
Gael Greene was a foodie before they coined the term, and her tale of the rising food culture in New York, which she helped create in the pages of New York magazine, brings alive what must've been a glorious time.

She drops names liberally and shares stories and recipes from A-list restaurants and chefs, but this book is a much about the sexual revolution, and her insatiable sexual appetite, as it is the food revolution. And this is where is feels a bit pathetic. There's a thread of near desperat
Apr 29, 2012 Kathy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
(I would choose a book to read that has a title used by hundreds!)...just starting out....

NYC, Columbia exploding.."Are we the establishment?" she asks...

only a few pages in. Breezy..

and...she slept with Elvis?? Really?

Okay...finished in one quick Sunday afternoon read (I do read very quickly). Sex and food are fascinating subjects; sex and food through the life of Gael Greene are a bit less fascinating. I alternated between rooting for her to make this book wonderful and thinking "omigod, when
Mar 23, 2012 Shelly rated it liked it
Book #9 for 2012 - If you can get past the fact that Gael Greene is an INCURABLE nymphomaniac and you like to read about food (especially the NYC food world) you will like this book. Gael Greene was the food critic for New York Magazine from 1968-2002. She is a well respected critic (and a tough one.) I loved reading about the food revolution that took place in the 60s and 70s in NYC. She does a good job of describing how many food trends came to be, when they came to be and how they came to be. ...more
Aug 29, 2012 Doreen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Foodies
To me, Gael Greene led the perfectly charmed life, filled with writing, men, travel and, above all, good food. This book beautifully captures the evolution of America's embrace of gourmet, offering insight to the mores and notables (in the food world, at least) of the times, as well. I admired Ms Greene's candor as she discussed not only her eating but also her personal habits. Too many people are afraid of pleasure, and while I wouldn't go to the great lengths Ms Greene goes herself -- I'm quit ...more
Larry Brennan
Sep 11, 2011 Larry Brennan rated it did not like it
Shelves: foodie-books
I suppose it's best to think of this book as a period piece from the days of the sexual revolution and only incidentally the food revolution.

I enjoyed Greene's breezy writing style and tales of the changing influences on and of fine dining in America. I also enjoyed her recounting her sexual escapades - at first. Then they became tiresome and I found myself wondering if there was anyone she hadn't slept with. The Pope, maybe? At some point, the name-dropping became self-parodying.

One thing I did
Apr 07, 2008 Ralph rated it it was ok
Gael Greene has a quick wit, a way with words, and must also be a fine conversationalist to have slithered into the world of three-star restaurants and haute cuisine. I enjoyed her play on words, but it all became too much about a hundred pages in. The amorous accounts were more of a name-dropping tell-all memoir, than anything of substance. Her columns in "New York" are better. I give it two stars, but only for the constantly unexpected choice of words she strings together. With talent like tha ...more
May 01, 2007 J rated it really liked it
This memoir of an unabashed foodie (before foodies were cool) details a life of seeking the satiety of all appetites--food, sex, love, and art via recipes. Her tales are varied (convincing her Midwestern parents to send her to Paris for a year in her late teens), enviable (getting paid to rub elbows with the most influential restauranteurs in NYC), and simply bizarre (sleeping with Elvis while wearing white gloves). Unlike most musicals, her diversions (recipes which are easy, tasty, and the sor ...more
Jun 11, 2008 Lisa rated it liked it
Alright book clubbers, don't read this and spoil it for yourself!! At first I loved this book. I got into it quickly, loved the author's stories (particularly about Elvis), and obviously the food parts were my favorite (and the sex parts!). But about mid-way through this book, I found myself really bored. I was sick of reading foie gras over and over again. She talks about places she gone and eaten, but she doesn't describe things in the sense that make me feel like I'm there tasting them with h ...more
Peggy Halm
Apr 28, 2010 Peggy Halm rated it did not like it
Can you spell narcissist? This book by a long-time food editor and apparently self-professed sex goddess was three times longer than it needed to be and would probably only be interesting to New York foodies who lived there during her reign. I kept reading it long after losing interest because surely if you read long enough, someone so self-absorbed must reveal some redeeming quality - but it was not to be. Unless you enjoy constant name dropping and stories of celebrities she bedded (Elvis, Cli ...more
Jul 03, 2011 Julie rated it did not like it
UGH! I was on the fence about Gael Greene, I knew that she was an old school food writer and used to the good life so I expected some sort of self gratification, I had no idea as to the extent of the narcicissim. This appallingly smug, namedropping, back patting crap is enought to turn your stomach. She talks about who she slept with, why she always wears her stupid hats, and how most new restaurnats are really not worth her time since the food is never that good and all the new people in the bu ...more
Andrea Patrick
Sep 07, 2009 Andrea Patrick rated it it was ok
I'd love to be a food critic. I eat out enough, at least. Does not being able to cook preclude that line of work? Anyway, Gael Greene was/is a food critic for New York magazine and this is her memoir. It starts with her story about when she had sex with Elvis Presley, and that's a pretty good indicator of things to come (no, that pun is not intentional). One annoying thing is that is centers on French food. Yeah, I know, for the decades she wrote about, French food was the thing, but that makes ...more
Mary Lou
Jan 24, 2011 Mary Lou rated it liked it
"Raunchy" probably describes it best. I enjoyed Greene's descriptions of the food, the restaurants, and the chefs, but got very tired very quickly of hearing too many details about her sex life.

Somewhere towards the end it seems she loses interest in explaining about what the food trends were when, and just dives off into lists of restaurants she didn't like that much, that may not be there any more. Yawn.

Anthony Bourdain held my interest better. Ruth Reichl's books are better written. The recip
Jan 04, 2009 mugerita rated it liked it
I appreciate that Greene's style is very much her own. Its similar/seems to have influenced many contemporary writers. Might even be iconic. I am just impressed with how long she has kept at it. She is somewhat like Woody Allen: very New York, questionably stretches the truth and gets away with it, afraid of death as evidenced by her fierce persistent hope on producing ONE great work and you wish you didnt know how obssesed with sex she really is. She documents some interesting tidbits of restau ...more
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