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Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table

4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  25,019 ratings  ·  1,840 reviews
At an early age, Ruth Reichl discovered that "food could be a way of making sense of the world. . . . If you watched people as they ate, you could find out who they were." Her deliciously crafted memoir, Tender at the Bone, is the story of a life determined, enhanced, and defined in equal measure by a passion for food, unforgettable people, and the love of tales well told. ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published March 2nd 1999 by Broadway Books (first published February 17th 1998)
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Having thoroughly enjoyed Garlic and Sapphires, I was thrilled to find this first of Reichl's memoirs on the 2-for-3 table at Barnes & Noble.

In the preface, Reichl admits to modifying certain stories for dramatic effect. But unless she's made entire years out of whole cloth, she's lived one hell of an interesting life. Throughout it all, the power of a meal -- sometimes spectacular, sometimes spectacularly bad -- has been a constant.

And to be honest, I don't care if the tale's been embroider
Charming and amusing account of how food critic Reichl got tuned into cooking through her family experiences and explorations in her young adult period. Her manic depressive mother was hopeless as a cook, even dangerous, as when she wasn’t using canned ingredients, she used bargain foods dangerously past their expiration dates. Instead, her inspiration came from an elderly aunt and her maid. What she learned at an early age she used to great advantage in her teen years to draw a good social crow ...more
I had a whole review written and ready to be posted when I accidentally trashed it. Grrr.... Just let it be known, Reichl is one of my all-time favorite food writers. She could write the telephone book and it would be wonderful!
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Feb 24, 2013 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyeone
Recommended to Lisa (Harmonybites) by: Ultimate Reading List - Biography
This is a memoir built around food--and as Reichl put it, she decided that instead of pictures she'd give recipes throughout to paint a picture of her relationships. The Author's Note tells us, "Everything here is true, but it may not be entirely factual. In some cases I have compressed events; in others I have made two people into one. I have occasionally embroidered." That sort of thing usually bugs the hell out of me. It didn't here. Maybe because Reichl was open about it from the beginning-- ...more
Let me say first of all that this book made me realize (sadly) just how dull my own life has been. Ruth Reichl has certainly had an interesting and rather bohemian lifestyle, picking up and traveling here and there without much deliberation and tasting all manner of exotic dishes. There's a real sense of joy in that. The freedom! The unconventionality!

Since cooking is most definitely NOT my thing, the recipes were incidental to me. It was Ruth's lifestyle and relationships that interested me muc
I wuv you, Ruthie! The wannabe Bohemian in me avoids national bestsellers. I refuse to be classified as a lemming! I've come to find out that most the time, if a lot of people agree that something is worth usually is! Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table is one of these books.

It was a delectible read, so much so that I greedily scarfed each chapter on my rail commutes to and from work..and then unabashedly licked my fingers afterwards. I had to force myself not to read anyth
I’m not normally a big fan of books about food. They always leave me cursing my limited culinary abilities and hungry for foods that are far outside of my price range, not to mention excluded by various personal dietary choices. I likely never would have picked up anything by Ruth Reichl had I not found myself uncharacteristically bookless while lounging in the park this past weekend and in need of diversion. Fortunately a friend had a copy of this deep in the bottom of her bag and I was able to ...more
Sep 12, 2014 Margaret rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Almost everyone.
Recommended to Margaret by: My daughters most of all.
This is the first of Reichl’s rightly acclaimed memoirs of her life as a foodie. I had long been encouraged to read these books by friends and most of all by both of my daughters. But I was reading other things, and it took years for me to finally get to this book. You should not make this same mistake.

The first chapter opens with these words: “This is a true story.” Reichl then proceeds to tell us of a time her mother woke up her father to come into the kitchen taste a spoonful of something. Ev
I liked this book but didn't love it. This is a memoir written by a NY Times food critic that manages to intermingle her relationship with food throughout different phases of her life and growing up with a manic-depressive mother. There were recipes interspersed throughout that were relevent to the experience she was talking about. (They were sometimes oddly thrown in, not quite at the right places, which was a little weird.) The book had a binding theme (food) that worked and was well-written. ...more
The culinary memoirs I've read prior to this one have been written by a different sort of chef. Julia Child, Jacques Pépin, Marcus Samuelsson. With that kind of background, it's probably not too surprising that I feel let down by Reichl's first memoir. The beginnings (of both the book and her life) were pretty good. Interesting, fun, funny, and one anecdote seemed to lead to the next easily. The stories of Alice and Aunt Birdie were the best parts of the book. My main complaint with the early ye ...more
Reichl is the editor-in-chief of Gourmet magazine, and this is her memoir about "Growing up at the table." As she tells the stories of her life, growing up with a manic depressive mother, going to boarding school in Montreal, and surviving in a commune in Berkeley, she includes recipes she loves and describes her unique and constant connection with food. Reichl is a good story-teller, and I look forward to trying some of her recipes. I was, however, deeply disturbed by the portrayal of her mothe ...more
I really, really enjoyed this. I did not know about her mother's illness, so that added an interesting layer for me. I was really impressed with how Reichl wrote about the unhappy and negative stories in her life. I think that must be the hardest part of writing memoirs...I want to think Reichl wrote honestly because that is how it felt to me. Also, it read so smoothly I couldn't put it down. 4.5 stars, actually.
According to Ruth Reichl, American chef, food critic, and former editor-in-chief of Gourmet magazine, food defines us. In this savory memoir, Ruth gives us an insight about how her love affair with food began. The way that Ruth Reichl weaves her story with recipes and food anecdotes was very entertaining. I enjoyed this book, and have read two other books by Reichl, "Comfort Me With Apples," in which she continues her life and food journey, from New York to the West Coast, and "Delicious!" in wh ...more
Note that for me, a four-star rating is pretty darn good, so three stars is still pretty good.

I have an informal book group with my dental hygenist; it meets four times a year and most of the conversation is one-sided. She has recommended Ruth Reichl's books to me, so I decided to start with this one, which is a personal memoir of how Reichl got started as a cook and food critic. It's pretty good.

Using recipes the way someone else might use photographs, Reichl tells the story of her life in rela
Jeanette (jema)
Nice read about a food critic growing up with a bi-polar mom and how she came to love food. Interesting when she writes on living in Berkeley in the 70:ies. Might try and find some more of her books. Oh and I will try some of the recipes too!
I have to admit I read Ruth Reichl's books backwards. I started with Garlic and Sapphires and then I read Comfort Me With Apples. So to the beginning we go . . . how does one become SO interested in food and cooking? Where does the passion come from?

In the first chapter, she sets the stage - the Queen of Mold, her mother: "She liked to brag about "Everything Stew," a dish invented while she was concocting a casserole out of a two-week-old turkey carcass. (The very fact that my mother confessed
“Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.” – Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

Ruth Reichl was Editor-in-chief of “Gourmet” magazine. Bringing her writing skills to novelistic form, she makes her eccentric mother, long-suffering but oblivious father, knowing stepbrother and the various personalities she encountered in her existence live in this tale about food, family and obsessions.

Ms. Reichl realized quite young that you can learn a lot about people from watching how and what they a
Jul 31, 2008 Rebecca rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: food lovers
Shelves: food
What a life! Being banished to learn French at a boarding school in Montreal? Lunatic New York mother fixing spoiled sea urchin and suckling pig? Traipsing through Morocco? Working and living in lunatic communes in Berkeley? And all the while eating, eating, eating.
Ruth Reichl lives to cook and eat and feed people. Not a shabby life!
I liked this MUCH better than her [Comfort Me With Apples] by the way. Call me wimpy but... coming of age, getting married, finding your life passion-- that's a muc
As in Garlic and Sapphires, Reichl combines memoir and food writing beautifully, with mouthwatering recipes and descriptions along with witty, often poignant reminiscences. I especially loved the part where she goes to girls' school in Montreal and visits a friend's family, where the friend's father discovers Reichl's taste for good food and offers her all sorts of fabulous food.
This book was interesting to me on two levels: first, because I enjoy foodie memoirs, and second, because I am interested in the culture and history of the 1960s and 1970s. Rachel Reichl handles both subjects nicely---although "nice" is not the adjective to use in regard to her lifestyle! Born to a German American father and a manic-depressive mother, Rachel had a most unusual upbringing, rich in diversity of experience but poor in moral underpinnings. She develops wings rather than roots and ra ...more
Usually I don't like to read memoirs as I find them extremely boring and uninteresting but Tender at the Bone is a very easy and likable read. Ruth Reichl is a food critic and tells her story about growing up in a dysfunctional family, her high school and college years, traveling, and experiencing all kinds of foods. She tells the story with humor and honesty. The book also includes many recipes that sound delicious! 3.5 stars
Jane Davenport Platko
An entertaining, colorful memoir about the author's relationships and evolving sense of herself. Time, place, love and food texture this often humourous story of finding nourishment, physically and emotionally.
This was enjoyable, a quick read, and it kept me interested. I was acquainted with Reichl's memoirs because my niece Poulami gave me her favorite, Garlic and Sapphires for xmas in 2008, and then Not Becoming My Mother in 2009. Those books are all similar in several ways. Like Diamonds and Sapphires, it has lots of recipes, and it is also a story of "not becoming my mother" although the latter from an older and more sympathetic standpoint.I think those are both stronger books. Still, is a romp to ...more
John Marco
I really enjoyed this book much more than I expected. I've seen Ruth Reichl on TV for years and was always a bit put off by her for some reason. But I read a sample of this book and was hooked immediately. She's a fantastic storyteller and a gifted writer and really brings the past to vivid life. My quibbles are small ones--I hated all the untranslated French (I don't speak French, for crying out loud!) and I was a little bothered by the level of detail sometimes, because no one could possibly r ...more
Oh I really liked this book. Almost sorry I got the kindle edition because of the recipes.
Ruth Reichl talks about food and growing up and is a superb writer, though it doesn't hurt that her life is interesting, full of odd family members and travels to different countries. Including some hippie days on a commune in California. I ended the book wanting to know more about her life and will probably try to read the second book some time.

Good book for people who like memoirs and food writing.
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
I'm sorry I couldn't enjoy this book more. The writing is good, with flashes of brilliance. The recipes sound luscious, though so calorie-laden (and in some cases so expensive) that I'd never think of preparing them. The title phrase "tender at the bone" is never incorporated into any of the cooking anecdotes that are interwoven into the memoir, but that's just by the way. I was expecting a warm, tender memoir on how food had shaped her life, and in part that's what it is, so that's not the prob ...more
Sherry (sethurner)
"Storytelling, in my family, was highly prized. While my father walked home from work he rearranged the events of his day to make them more entertaining, and my mother could make a trip to the supermarket sound like an adventure. If this required minor adjustments of fact, nobody much minded: it was certainly preferable to boring your audience."

I have friends who will not read memoirs, because they are sure that the authors have manipulated the truth, even made things up to be more entertaining.
Alexis Neal
Food critic and chef Ruth Reichl traces her lifelong love affair with food, beginning with her mother's atrocious culinary creations during her childhood, through to her very first restaurant reviews out in California. The entertaining anecdotes are interspersed with recipes that have been particularly important to her over the years.

Reichl, a highly respected food writer, doesn't seem to have had any formal culinary education. Instead, her expertise is the result of varied experiences cobbled t
I read this before, quite a few years ago now, but someone borrowed my copy and never returned it. When I saw this copy at the Library Sale I was happy to be able to buy it and read it again.
Ruth Reichl is (or was at the time the book was published) the restaurant critic for the NY Times. In this book she chronicles growing up with her bipolar mother who often serves food that is going or is bad and Ruth takes on the role of protecting the guests. Ruth has some good role models for cooking thou
I liked Garlic and Sapphires better, but, I truly enjoyed reading this food memoir. It helped me understand and appreciate Garlic and Sapphires even better! The fragile poignant moments of self discovery through cooking were delicious. The recipes, caused me to become prolific in the kitchen...I couldn't resist the veal, and Gary and I supped divinely on chicken, potato salad and other delights. I think this would be a fun Book club read, if everyone brought one of their favorite recipes and we ...more
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Ruth Reichl is an American food writer, the editor-in-chief of Gourmet magazine and culinary editor for the Modern Library.
Born to parents Ernst and Miriam (née Brudno), she was raised in New York City and spent time at a boarding school in Montreal. She attended the University of Michigan, where she met her first husband, the artist Douglas Hollis. She graduated in 1970 with a M.A. in art history
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“She was a great cook, but she cooked more for herself than for other people, not because she was hungry but because she was comforted by the rituals of the kitchen.” 10 likes
“It was Mac who first made me think about the way food brought people together — and kept them apart.” 0 likes
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