book-comfort1Comfort Me With Apples: More Adventures at the Table 

Ruth Reichl

Random House, 2001

Genre: Non-Fiction, Books About Food

A few months ago I read and thoroughly enjoyed Ms. Reichl’s Garlic and Sapphires (see my review here). This one is equally as good, although, of course, the story is different.

Both are memoirs but Comfort Me With Apples covers the time of her life when her food writing career begins to soar. The reader is taken from her life in a commune in Berkeley to her job as restaurant critic for the Los Angeles Times.  

Although Ms. Reichl is very knowledgeable when it comes to good food, she takes advantage of the many opportunities she has to learn even more. For example, she is introduced to Thai food and immediately arranges a food tour through Thailand. She describes this amazing food trip as well as others to China, Paris, and Barcelona. She is right in the center of the changing food world in California and has the opportunity to meet some remarkable people: Alice Waters, M.F.K. Fisher, Wolfgang Puck, Marion Cunningham, and Danny Kaye. She is right in the middle of their kitchens, studying their techniques and philosophies and, yes, getting their recipes which she shares in the book.

Woven into the story about food is the story of her personal life. It is not dull. She is very open about her love  affairs and the disintegration of her first marriage, as well as other events that are both heart breaking and heart warming. Ms. Reichl’s philosophy about sharing food along with her private life is mixed in with a conversation she has with her boss at the Times. 

“Haven’t you noticed that food all by itself is really boring to read about?” I asked. ” It’s everything around the food that makes it interesting. The sociology. The politics. The history.”

The author makes her food interesting with her writing style. When she describes food she doesn’t say things like “its salty” or “this is yummy”. She describes the food in such a way that your senses know what she’s talking about. Here’s an example: “The oysters were cold, with that deep, mysteriously ancient flavor they have when they first come out of the ocean.” Can’t you just feel and smell and taste those oysters?

I hated for the book to end. I’m ready for her first book, Tender To The Bone. (I seem to be reading in reverse order.) This book is my third book for the Books About Food Challenge.

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