Book Review - Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl
Review by Meghan Mast
Ruth Reichl developed an interest in food at a young age initially in self-defense against her mother’s horrible cooking. As she dodged two-week old turkey stew, green sour cream and barely cooked steak, Reichl developed an iron stomach and a resolve to save her mother’s dinner guests.
Despite her unusual introduction to it, Reichl always had a passion for food. In fact, for young Ruth, food was one of the few sources of stability amidst her chaotic and often lonely home-life. For her, “food (became) a way of making sense of the world.” At age thirteen, when Reichl was shipped off to boarding school in France, her passion for food evolved into true love. There, she discovered the delights of smoked meat, soufflé and other foods she had never dreamed of.
The description of her first experience trying foie gras leaves no doubt that for Reichl, eating good food is a powerful, mesmerizing experience. From making fried oysters at Aunt Birdie’s, to cooking the first few meals of stuffed pork chops and sauerkraut with her husband Doug, most of her meaningful memories occurred in the kitchen. Weaved around almost edible pages of description, Reichl recalls the cast of colorful characters who developed her palate and shaped the woman she has become.
An honest, hilarious and sometime heart-breaking memoir, Tender at the Bone is ultimately a story about one woman’s unswerving love of food.