Tender At The Bone


Author: Ruth Reichel

Title: Tender At The Bone

Genre: Nonfiction, Food Writing, Memoir

Publication Date: 1998

Number of Pages: 282

Geographical Setting: New York, Montreal, California

Time Period: 1960’s-1970’s.

Plot Summary: Future food critic and editor of Gourmet magazine, Ruth Reichel, writes a memoir about growing up as a budding gourmet and daughter of The Queen of Mold, a woman with an iron stomach who routinely poisons her guests. Reichel writes lovingly about attending a French school in Montreal, having a wild phase in high school, and living in an organic, vegetarian commune in her 20’s. All of her stories relate to her education in good food, such as her best friend’s father who taught her the wonders of French cooking, or the cook who taught her how to make her father’s favorite weiner schnitzel. Every chapter is punctuated with a recipe, which is good because when Reichel describes food, she goes into mouth-watering detail.

Subject Headings: Cooking, Growing Up, Food Habits, Recipes

Appeal: eccentric, intriguing, family-centered, details of cooking, lush, descriptive, colorful, engaging, witty.

3 Appeal Terms that Best Describe the Book: Eccentric, lush, witty.

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Julie and Julia by Julie Powell

When Julie Powell is about to have a nervous break down from her drab life, she saves herself by taking on a project where she cooks every single recipe from Julia Child’s “Mastering The Art of French Cooking” in a year and blogging about it. Powell’s writing is sharp and witty, and also ends every chapter with a recipe.

Dirty Sugar Cookies: Culinary Observations, Questionable Taste by Ayun Halliday

Although this is a similar food memoir in which Ayun Halliday writes about her connection to food from an early age and how her tastes expanded while growing up, Halliday is the polar opposite of Reichel. Halliday was an extremely picky eater as a child who didn’t discover her love of food until her first bite of spanikopita, when she discovered her innate love of ethnic cuisine. Halliday’s own cooking is more similar to Reichel’s mother, as Halliday also has an iron stomach and thinks nothing of eating something that fell on the ground, much to the chagrin of her family.

French Lessons: Adventures With Knife, Fork And Corkscrew by Peter Mayle

Mayle takes the reader on a culinary tour of France, in which he imparts the French’s enthusiasm for truly good food in a charming and lighthearted way.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

At nine-years-old Rose Edelstein discovers that when she bites into food, she can taste the emotions of the cook who made it. Her mother’s lemon cake tastes of “despair and desperation.”

Like Water For Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

Tita De La Garza is the youngest daughter in her family and forbidden to marry because she has to take care of her mother. She falls in love with someone anyway, and he falls for her from the magical way that she cooks. He marries her sister to stay close to her, and they keep their passion at a low ebb until circumstances throw them together again.

The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister

This book follows eight students who gather for cooking lessons at Lillian’s Kitchen every Monday. The stories of what they really want is woven in between sumptuous descriptions of the food that they make.

Name: Jessica DiMaio

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