Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table

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9780679449874: Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table
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For better or worse, almost all of us grow up at the table. It is in this setting that Ruth Reichl's brilliantly written memoir takes its form. For, at a very early age, Reichl discovered that "food could be a way of making sense of the world . . . if you watched people as they ate, you could find out who they were."

Tender at the Bone is the story of a life determined, enhanced, and defined in equal measure by unforgettable people, the love of tales well told, and a passion for food. In other words, the stuff of the best literature. The journey begins with Reichl's mother, the notorious food-poisoner known for-evermore as the Queen of Mold, and moves on to the fabled Mrs. Peavey, onetime Baltimore socialite millionaress, who, for a brief but poignant moment, was retained as the Reichls' maid. Then we are introduced to Monsieur du Croix, the gourmand, who so understood and yet was awed by this prodigious child at his dinner table that when he introduced Ruth to the soufflé, he could only exclaim, "What a pleasure to watch a child eat her first soufflé!" Then, fast-forward to the politically correct table set in Berkeley in the 1970s, and the food revolution that Ruth watched and participated in as organic became the norm. But this sampling doesn't do this character-rich book justice. After all, this is just a taste.

Tender at the Bone is a remembrance of Ruth Reichl's childhood into young adulthood, redolent with the atmosphere, good humor, and angst of a sensualist coming-of-age.

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Review:

New York Times restaurant critic Ruth Reichl shares lessons learned at the hands (and kitchen counters) of family members and friends throughout her life, from growing up with her taste-blind mother to the comfort of cream puffs while away at boarding school on "Mars" (Montreal seemed just as far away) to her most memorable meal, taken on a mountainside in Greece.

Her stories shine with the voices and recipes of those she has encountered on the way, such as her Aunt Birdie's maid and companion, Alice, who first taught Reichl both the power of cooking and how to make perfect apple dumplings; the family's mysterious patrician housekeeper, Mrs. Peavey, who always remembered to make extra pastry for the beef Wellington; Serafina, the college roommate with whom Reichl explored a time of protest and political and personal discovery; and, finally, cookbook author Marion Cunningham, who, after tales of her midlife struggles and transformation, gave Reichl the strength to overcome her own anxieties.

Reichl's wry and gentle humor pervades the book, and makes readers feel as if they're right at the table, laughing at one great story after another (and delighting in a gourmet meal at the same time, of course). Reichl's narrative of a life lived and remembered through the palate will stay with the reader long after the last page is turned.

From the Back Cover:

"In this intimate and charming memoir, Ruth Reichl shares a wonderful truth: a sentimental and sensory education that begins at home--around the family table, in the kitchen, in the garden--can give life meaning." --Alice Waters

"People who have a calling, it has always seemed to me, are the luckiest ones. Tender at the Bone reminds us that the vital and interesting things we are drawn to as we grow up are really preparation for our callings. I was moved by Ruth Reichl's story of finding the thing that saved her and brought her happiness and love. Her writing is the clearest, simplest, and best I have read in a very long time. This book made me happy and will continue to as I use the recipes and read it all again."
--Mike Nichols

"Like most of her admirers, you've probably spent years wishing you could have dinner with Ruth Reichl--because you expected you'd eat well. It turns out that good food is only one of the pleasures of her company. Tender at the Bone is one great tale after another, some funny, some profoundly touching. To read this book is to spend time with a truly enthralling storyteller."
--Dan Rather

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