36. Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise by Ruth Reichl
Ruth Reichl former restaurant critic for the New York Times shares her experiences in a well written and entertaining book. In order to avoid detection and be treated as any other diner would, Reichl often donned various disguises, which she details in the book. The book is broken up into essay like chapters that focus on her experiences creating a specific review followed at the end by the chapter by a copy of the review while also creating an overall narrative story arc over her time at the paper. The book is also full of recipes either of her own creation (Reichl was previously a chef) or those from or inspired by restaurants she dined at.
Though it was released several years after this book, I read Frank Bruni’s book Born Round a couple of years ago and was disappointed in most of it only really enjoying the end where he specifically talked about his experiences as a food critic. Garlic and Sapphires was everything I had hoped that Born Round would be but wasn’t. I really enjoyed reading this book and can’t wait to try some of the recipes from it. I give it an 8 out of 10.