January 23, 2010

Reading "Tender at the Bone"

Our book club selection for February is "Tender at the Bone -- Growing Up at the Table" by Ruth Reichl. I had to keep reminding myself that this is non-fiction.

Ruth Reichl, Editor-in-Chief of Gourmet magazine which is no longer being published as of November 2009, has an entertaining history with food. While she had no formal culinary training, she has cooked since she was a small child. This is the story of her life with food and her no holds barred personal life, including dealing with a manic-depressive mother who was known as the Queen of Mold.

Here's a little excerpt from the first chapter:

"Oh, it's just a little mold," I can remember her saying on the many occasions she scraped the fuzzy blue stuff off some concoction before serving what was left for dinner. She had an iron stomach and was incapable of understanding that other people did not.

This taught me many things. The first was that food could be dangerous, especially to those who loved it. I took this very seriously. My parents entertained a great deal, and before I was ten I had appointed myself guardian of the guests. My mission was to keep Mom from killing anybody who came to dinner.

She tells about learning to cook from her Aunt Birdie's maid, Hortense, as well as their own family's maid, Mrs. Peavey; being sent to boarding school in Montreal to learn French and getting an education from the local deli owners; spending time with a fellow student's millionaire family where she was introduced to gourmet food; traveling abroad with her college roommate; marrying and making ends meet -- then moving to California and living in a commune; being hired as a restaurant critic by a San Francisco magazine; going to France on a wine buying trip; even attending a party in honor of James Beard.

ruth reichl
I found her story interesting and fascinating. She really went through some ups and downs with her mother's illness and came out on the right side of happy.

Ruth Reichl has written and edited a number of books and cookbooks over the years and I believe I'll read them all. "Tender at the Bone" includes recipes throughout the text as well.



4badbill said...

Definitely going to read this book. Thank you so much. I just love getting good suggestions! I was brought up in Montreal and went to a school that took in boarders. Wonder if it was the same one! I'll check it out! Thanks, jayaycee!

jayaycee said...

The school she went to was College Marie de France.

I enjoyed this book a lot and really am going to read her others. Hope you enjoy it too!

Sara said...

While I'm not a cook, this book looks interesting for anyone. It's on my list. Thanks for the tip!

jayaycee said...

I like biographies as long as they're not too old and historical. This is one of those wild rides with the dysfunctional family that is pretty entertaining.