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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise

Ruth Reichl, currently the editor of “Gourmet” magazine, tells of her experiences as the New York Times restaurant critic during the 1990s. Although Ruth’s career in the food industry included stints as chef, restaurant owner, food writer and restaurant critic for the Los Angeles Times, none of these posts prepared her for such an exalted position as that of the New York Times food critic. Operating in this competitive atmosphere required fortitude, an encyclopedic knowledge of all foods and cuisines, and a sense of the dramatic. In order to accurately assess each restaurant, Reichl developed a variety of characters and dressed them in an assortment of wigs, makeup and clothing. Then each of these personalities anonymously visited the restaurants to evaluate their menus and to see how they behaved toward typical customers. Sensual descriptions of food, hilarious accounts of the New York City restaurant culture, and some of Ruth’s favorite recipes enliven the pages of this book.

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