Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Love of Learning, the Sequestered Nooks, and All the Sweet Serenity of Books (Longfellow) . . .

A personal blog is a way to share interests with everyone.  Since I already write about one of my favorite subjects - travel, I thought I would add another of my passions - books!

An avid reader since childhood, I was fortunate to have a branch of the local library two blocks from my home.  In the summer, my mother religiously took us to the library near our vacation house so we could spent our summer afternoons reading on the dock or under the immense pine tree that were scattered on our front lawn.  Mysteries were (and still are) my favorites; my love of the "whodunit" began in the shade of a pine with Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys in the 1970s.

Once a week I will share the book I am reading.  Also, since getting an IPod Nano, I have begun to download audio books regularly, so I will also touch upon those.  Hopefully I will inspire someone to rediscover the joy of reading (or listening to) a book!

My choice this week is the audio book I have been listening to - Garlic and Sapphires:  The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise by Ruth Reichl.  Reichl's claim to fame is that she was the restaurant critic for both the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times.  In "Garlic and Sapphires", she tells of her move from L.A. to Manhattan to take the job at the Times.  She fears instant recognition by the restaurants around New York and fears she never be able to write an impartial review (one of the opening paragraphs of the book tells how she encounters someone on a plane who tells her that her photo had already been circulated around to the important restaurants in New York months in advance of her beginning her new job).

To try to remain anonymous on the restaurant scene, Reichl devises a plan to use disguises in order to trick the restaurants into thinking she is someone else.  Her disguises are usually geared to make her look more ordinary and older, to see how the restaurants would treat a regular customer off the street.  She also visits the restaurants as herself so she can contrast the quality of the food and treatment by the staff.  The result is astonishing and it makes for a very entertaining read.

Reichl is the author of seven books, including two cookbooks, and also co-produces of PBS's Gourmet's Diary of a Foodie and is host of PBS's Gourmet's Adventures with Ruth. Take a minute to visit her website to read about her work, and to try some of her favorite recipes.

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