Chloe's Reviews > Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table

Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl
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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 while away an afternoon in my preferred manner.



A book that is part biography, part paean to the glory of the kitchen, and part cookbook, Tender At The Bone is one of the quickest reads I’ve had all year. Ruth Reichl is editor of Gourmet magazine and her long years in the magazine industry are evident in her writing style. Chapters are short and to the point (no frippery for her) and punctuated by a recipe of whatever delicious creation she has been reminiscing about. These vignettes follow Ruth and her lifelong relationship with food- from her mother’s inability to tell when food has spoiled to her first gig waitressing to her membership in a Berkeley restaurant collective to a delicious and educational trip through French wine country. Initially I was put off by the early scenes of her learning to cook from her family’s servants (scenarios of privilege such as these always tend to fan the flames of my class resentment) but I can get over the fact that, trite though they are, this is life as this woman has experienced it. On the whole the story is better off when Ruth allows herself to be overcome with the delight she feels in food, several descriptions had me salivating like some Pavlovian pooch and wishing I knew people who could cook these fantastic confections for me.



Like I said, it is a quick read that won’t stick with you long (though the recipes may), but enjoyable in a pinch. I doubt I’ll rush out and buy the rest of her books, but should one fall into my hands on a plane ride or another sunny day, I wouldn’t complain.
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Sally Yet, I fear you would complain, as I did, because it became apparent by about the third food narrative of hers she only has so many stories to tell, and she repeats them ad nauseum. The Berkley collective that sounded so great in this book? Described nearly the same way in every other book of hers I've ever read.


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