Do you ever start to read a book and not want it to end? A book so delightful or well-written that it is a perfect delight, just like a perfect plum? Ruth Reichl’s latest memoirs, Save Me The Plums is just such a book.
Reichl began her food-writing career in 1972 with a cookbook, Mmmmm: A Feastiary. She was the food editor and restaurant critic at the Los Angeles Times, and restaurant critic for The New York Times until becoming the editor of Gourmet magazine in 1999. The recipient of James Beard awards, she is a well known name in the world of food writing.
Save Me The Plums is an account of her time at Condé Nast as editor between 1999 and 2009 of the now closed magazine, Gourmet. It is a wonderful, humorous account of her time there, the personalities she had to deal with and how the new job affected her family life when she was no longer a restaurant critic and going out most evenings to dinner. There are fascinating insights into how she dealt with leadership and had to quickly learn on her feet about the publishing industry, life lessons we could all learn from.
Of course, I particularly liked her descriptions of food and restaurants. Her description of eating fried oysters “showered” with fresh lemon juice, where “the outside crackled gently before yielding to the small, savoury custard inside” contours up a special experience, as does “a plump roast chicken with fresh morels and a sauce made of cream so rich it gleamed like gold” followed by “a handful of tiny strawberries, a cloud of Chantilly, a wedge of Brie”. Who else would want to plunge “into a crowded, boisterous dining room” and make your way “through an aromatic swirl of wine, butter and onions”? I know I would. As a bonus, there are a number of recipes too, all of which come with a story.
The book is an absolute delight from beginning to end, with lots of moments to savour, as you would a great meal. I haven’t read any of her other memoirs, and now long to do so. A great read whether you know her work or not.
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