Carly Fisher's Reviews > Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise

Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl
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Jan 10, 12

Read in December, 2011

The plot: Former NYT food critic Ruth Reichl's personal narrative about assuming the coveted position and her struggle to remain anonymous, fair, and true to herself. In her attempts to do so, Reichl begins taking acting lessons and purchasing elaborate disguises to portray the role of different diners at various restaurants to see how her treatment differs. While the differing treatment is hardly surprising, Reichl begins to lose herself in each character in hopes of understanding the various readers for whom she writes.

As a food journalist, I had really high hopes for this book—and for the most part, they were met. Surprisingly, I find that Reichl's personal narrative is far more engaging than any of her articles while at the Times, which are included in each chapter to allow context for her stories. Overall, the book is funny, touching, interesting, and a speedy read, but in typical fashion I feel as though Reichl's dreaminess of each morsel eventually becomes tiresome and unrealistic (something she catches herself). Also, the ending felt very anticlimatic (which I will refrain from saying what that is to avoid spoilers) and I felt as though there were holes and not enough character exploration for some interesting side characters.

Still, definitely an easy and entertaining read--highly recommended.
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