Book review: Garlic and Sapphires, by Ruth Reichl

In this book I discovered what is surely one of the greatest jobs on the planet: the New York Times restaurant critic, where by day you shop for wigs and ensembles to build your latest character, and by night you dine at the city’s finest restaurants.

Reichl also provided indispensable advice for when it’s time to cut and run from one of the world’s greatest jobs: stop when you realize you’re becoming an asshole.

This was such an entertaining and well-written memoir of her experiences as NYT restaurant critic, from before she officially began (when she realized how difficult it would be to achieve the essential anonymity as a diner) to the end, when she moved on to something more fulfilling.

I also appreciate the focus she brought to a couple different themes:

  • Facing discrimination against women dining alone, especially in the snobbiest restaurants (this convinced me I could get as good a meal for far less bullshit and fewer dollars than the ones featured in the NYT)
  • Highlighting less traditional ethnic food, such as Asian noodle shops, for her reviews. This gave her predecessor a fit (“SHE’S DESTROYING THE SYSTEM”)

If you like food and escapist reflections on a totally unique job, I recommend this book.

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