Book Review: Garlic and Sapphires

July 9, 2008

If you are in need of some summer reading (or winter depending on where you live) I highly suggest this book. It is perfect for anyone with an interest in food and a little bit of fantasy. I’ll explain that in a minute.

Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise by Ruth Reichl is the story of Ruth’s life as a restaurant critic for the New York Times. Considering that this book is mostly about eating you are probably thinking it doesn’t fit well with a health focused blog like this one, but let me expand on why I liked it so much.

First, about the food. Aside from being an amazing food writer who makes you feel as though you can taste the entrees as she describes them, in my opinion, Ruth really represents what eating should be like.

I’ve talked a lot lately about the enjoyment of food and later I’ll talk about mindful eating. This book does a great job of showing us both. The story is about her eating real food and getting complete satisfaction from it. I can definitely use some lessons in this technique. I think the problem of quick meals hurriedly eaten between busy schedules is something we can all relate to. This book alone will cause you to slow down and savor the moment.

Second, I said I’d mention the fantasy. If you are familiar with the book you know Ruth has to disguise herself to critique some restaurants which makes for fun reading, but this isn’t what I’m speaking of. I’m talking about the fantasy of eating at the places and enjoying the foods she eats. Reading the book presented the sad reality that I will probably never have the status or the funds to eat at some of these elite restaurants, but it made it even more exciting to read. I felt as though I was disguised with her.

It also completely dispelled the myth of the perfect job. Sure, it would be awesome if eating wonderful foods defined your career, but who knew people were so incredibly awful to food critics.

Finally, the book is just a great story about the lessons of life and how things always seem to work out in the end.

So find yourself a few minutes this summer and relax with this great book. If you have read it or plan to, I’d love to hear what you think of it.

Photo courtesy of Free Range Stock

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