55 von 62 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
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After reading Tender at the Bone, I was looking forward to more of Ruth Reichl. Garlic and Sapphires was not only a disappointment, it was as if a completely different person had written it. It is ironic that in a book about disguises, Reichl herself was unrecognizable. Far from the funny, sensitive, and sincere person she was in her first book, Reichl had transformed herself into a self-absorbed snob loaded with enough hypocrisy to sink a ship.
This book covers Reichl's stint as the New York Times chief restaurant critic. Although she accepts the position, she has reservations about the elitist implications of the job, and vows to write for the masses--those million readers who can't afford to spend $100 for a meal at a four-star French restaurant. Part of her mission is to expose the poor treatment many of these restaurants heap on the "common man." But in order to accomplish this lofty goal, Reichl must eat in disguise. For if she is recognized as New York's premier restaurant critic, she'll be treated like royalty. (Although this obviously has no bearing on the quality of the food, it has a great deal of bearing on the quality of the experience. Personally, I eat for the food.)
The idea is cute, and for the first few chapters it was fun. But Reichl shows her true colors right from the start when she heaps disdain on a bearded ignoramus (wearing Birkenstocks...unforgivable!) for having the audacity to dip his sushi rice-side down, thereby "ruining" the "clear transparent flavor," the "taut crispness," and the clam that was "almost baroque in its sensuality." (I have yet to meet a sensual or almost baroque clam, but I'll take Reichl's word for it.) Reichl then reminisces about her trip to Japan, in which she is first exposed to the proper way to eat Japanese food. (I'm pretty sure the guy in Birkenstocks could not afford to go to Japan for eating lessons.) In her other encounters with diners at top-notch restaurants Reichl indulges in so much blatant one-up-manship that you simply can't sympathize with her concern for the "simple folk" no matter how much she tries to dress like them. The verbal food fights with the poor guy she picks up in a bar as the vampish Chloe (what's up with THAT??), and with the self-avowed "food warrior" were downright churlish. After proclaiming that there is no right way to eat food, Reichl clearly demonstrates that it's her way or the highway. Even Reichl's portrayals of other diners, who are merely innocent bystanders, are dreadfully stereotyped, sometimes to the point of cruelty. (She assumes that a "loud, brassy blonde," who is disturbing her expensive meal, is a prostitute. Apparently, sitting next to the "masses" isn't nearly as much fun as pretending to write for them.)
Even Reichl's disguises lacked credibility. Reichl's claims that she had an instant personality transformation with each new disguise are simply unbelievable. She BECOMES the 'little people,' taking on their imagined attributes, their voices, their very lives. She comes up with histories for each of the women she invents, and, with just a wig and some makeup, is so amazingly convincing that she can even fool her husband! Either Reichl is schizophrenic, or she takes method acting entirely too seriously. She certainly takes herself too seriously.
If the book had been well written I could have forgiven the snobbery, but, with the exception of one chapter, "The Missionary of the Delicious," in which Reichl was somehow able to get a grip on herself, purple prose abounded. (As her editor I would have crossed out half of her adjectives.) The inclusion of reprints of her published reviews was redundant, and the recipes were mediocre. (There was no clue in these recipes that Reichl was an expert in the kitchen. But, hey, she was writing for the "huddled masses yearning to eat free." What do we know? We can't even dip sushi right.)
If Reichl hadn't been so intent on wallowing in her ego, this book might have had possibilities. She loves food, and she has dined in some truly fabulous restaurants. The fact that most of us can't afford them is irrelevant. She had a duty to go to these marvelous places, enjoy herself to the max, and then take the rest of us with her.
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Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
`Garlic and Sapphires' is the third volume of memoirs by Ruth Reichl. After `Tender at the Bone' which deals with her childhood and teens and `Comfort Me with Apples' which deals with her early journalistic career in San Francisco, this latest volume deals with her five years as the lead restaurant critic for the New York Times.
This volume proves that Ms. Reichl is truly the best culinary memoirist today, and easily the best since M.F.K. Fisher. And, as one who has read more than a few of Ms. Fisher's memoirs, I would easily choose Ms. Reichl's humor and great stories of the modern scene over Ms. Fisher's slightly musty, albeit exquisitely crafted tales of cities and towns in France.
The primary point of this volume is to tell the stories behind Ms. Reichl's various disguises and personas she took on in order to dine at Daniel's and Lespanisse and Le Cirque without being identified as the restaurant critic for the Times. The book starts off with the amazing story of Reichl's flight from Los Angles to New York seated, by coincidence, along side a waitress of a major Manhattan restaurant. It turns out that posted in all restaurant kitchens in New York City was already a photograph of Ruth Reichl with a reward to any staff member who identifies Ms. Reichl in their restaurant.
In spite of all the other things on which Ruth could dwell, she stays remarkably on message. There is only the slightest of references to the great New York Times culinary writer, Craig Claiborne, who was still alive while Reichl was at the Times. And, there was only a slightly more specific reference to R. W. Appel and Amanda Hesser. The only two writing talents cited to any extent are Marion Burros, a friendly colleague who mostly worked out of the Washington bureau and adversary Bryan Miller who left the critic's post and objected to Reichl's overturning a lot of his restaurant opinions. What Miller forgot was that the power of the restaurant critic's column was not based on the writer, but on the newspaper which published the column.
The most important character in this story after Reichl may be `THE NEW YORK TIMES', commonly thought to be the best and most powerful newspaper in the world. This fact makes it almost unthinkable that Reichl would question whether or not she really wanted to work for the Times when she was literally offered the job on a silver platter. There may have been some foundation to her doubts when she saw the Times offices for the first time. In contrast to the light, airy, Los Angles Times offices, the New York offices were crowded and filled with lots of old desks and unmatched chairs. After a full day's interviews plus total willingness from her husband to relocate to New York, Reichl took the job and immediately changed the tone of the paper's reviews.
Reichl's personal philosophy was that reviews were nothing more than informed opinion and taste. This may seem utterly subjective, but actually, it is not far from what you would see in a scholarly work on the nature of aesthetic judgment. One is much better off trusting the opinion of a literary critic who has read 10,000 novels, both good and bad, than of your dentist who may have read 10, all from the same author. The thing that endeared her to her Times editors and publishers was the idea that her columns were written to sell newspapers, not to promote restaurants.
For someone who does not read reviews of major Manhattan restaurants, I was a bit surprised at the incredible difference between the quality of food and service given to a pair of `beautiful people' versus the quality of food and service given to a drab looking old woman. And, if the diner is known to be the critic from the Times, food and service quality goes off the charts. This was the reason for the many disguises. And, it is obvious that more than one was needed, as it was all too easy for an astute restaurateur to connect a person with the byline on a review which can change their gross by tens of thousands of dollars a week. The truly remarkable thing about many of the disguises is how the personality embodied by the wig and clothes became part of Reichl's persona in dealing with people who were not in on the ruse. By far the funniest was the incident when Reichl took on her mother's persona, using her mother's clothes and jewelry. The story is doubly amusing if you have read `Tender at the Bone' where Reichl describes her primary chore was to keep her mother from poisoning any guests by serving spoiled food.
It should be no surprise that Reichl's job had a serious downside. In addition to all the nasty mail from offended restaurateurs and their advocates and the political backbiting at the newspaper, there were the really unpleasant situations where Reichl offered `a dinner with the New York Times restaurant critic' as a prize to be auctioned off for charity. Ruth recounts one especially distasteful episode where the situation went so far as to turn her well-trained chameleon personality into someone who was distasteful to her husband. This job is no picnic. From this encounter comes the name of the book from a line in T. S. Eliot's `Four Quartets', `garlic and pearls in the mud' which echoed the fact that the evening had nothing to do with Reichl's love of cooks, food, or writing.
The book includes the Times reviews Reichl wrote as a result of the meals described in the book. These are fun and interesting, but are really just sidebars to the real action in the main text. My only regret is that Reichl did not find it useful to include photographs of her disguises.
Very highly recommended reading for foodies and non-foodies alike.