Wednesday, March 14, 2007

[Book Review] TENDER AT THE BONE by Ruth Reichl

Nonfiction/Cooking Memoir

Sarah Frierson reviews TENDER AT THE BONE: Growing up at the Table by Ruth Reichl (Random House, 1998)

I first encountered Ruth Reichl's writing with 2005's Garlic and Sapphires and was immediately impressed. (And hungry! You can only read about food for so long before you want to experience it for yourself.) That book told of Reichl's arrival in New York to work as the food critic for the New York Times and the hilarious disguises she needed to create in order to do her job. Reichl has a wonderful storytelling style, and her love of food and people is abundantly clear.

Tender at the Bone is a collection of stories from throughout Reichl's life, each showing a step in her development as a "foodie" and as a storyteller. From learning how to cook her father's favorite German dishes as a young girl to an elite French boarding school, through communal living in San Francisco to an extended trip to North Africa, the reader is able travel along with Reichl as she begins to discover her passion.

Each story is able to stand alone, but a few threads run through them all--culinary discoveries, the individual's search for identity, and the power of family. Reichl's interactions with her mother help to define her as well as thrust her into new possibilities, and the result is a book that explains how one can find one's calling without knowing that a search has begun.

Also, for those who are more interested in the food, most chapters are augmented with a recipe from that time in Reichl's life. Each recipe is simple and stripped down to the basics, which I appreciate greatly as a beginning cook. I'm looking forward to my first attempt at Wiener Schnitzel. Cross your fingers!

Sarah Frierson, Business and Science Department

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