Perhaps it is the Mozart Divertimenti streaming from the speakers, but I’m really enjoying what Ruth Reichl is saying in, Garlic and Sapphires, better yet, I should say, how she is saying these things. 

The Worthington library is a mile into my walk home from work. They have a pretty decent “Friends of the Library” book sale just inside the doors to the building.  Several weeks ago I stopped in to browse the shelves.  Endless Feasts: Sixty Years of Writing from Gourmet, was on the top shelf of one of the book dollies. I recognized the author’s name, but couldn’t remember if she was good or just popular.

A few other titles tempted me, but I decided to check the library catalog to see if I could borrow them, rather than add to our home collection of books.  This branch had quite a few of Ruth’s books to choose from, when I looked on the shelf in the downstairs level of the Worthington library.  I checked out three, and read almost half of the shortest one on the rest of my walk home. 

The second, Garlic and Sapphires, is taking me a bit longer to go through. Ruth Reichl is an excellent writer.  Dishes that I wouldn’t have ever considered tasting are described in a manner that makes you want to experience food. “Snap, Crackle & Pop”  mean so much more than Rice Krispies.  “Melt in Your Mouth” has a different meaning than M & Ms. She can even make eating a Japanese noodle sound sinful.

Her books are more than a description of fancy foods.  Ruth uses her biographical information to expand the gourmet experience.  Her perspective isn’t so high above the average American that one can only dream of sensuously sharing her observations.

Apart from the book being a “good read”, the book is also a good source for recipes. The recipes are for pretty normal foods, too.  Cheesecake, hashbrowns, roasted chicken are a few of the ones she includes.  I tried her advice on preparing steak, this past Sunday: room temperature, lots of salt, HOT skillet, 8 minutes each side, dab of butter right before serving; it probably would have worked if I hadn’t been using “on sale ‘steak’ ” from Kroger.

This morning, I am on page 232.  Having just planted some cress seeds in my parents’ back yard, Ruth’s recipe for Pureed Watercress caught my attention.  She says that this vegetable is similar to spinach, but easier to wash and that it “has such an interestingly spicy bite”. 

By the time the cress in my garden grows, I should be done reading the book, and you can check it out. Or, better yet, buy the book to keep handy.


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