Save Me the Plums
SAVE ME THE PLUMS is a total change of pace for me. I’ve read memoirs before but never about food. Though I bought this one in hardcover months ago, I kept postponing reading it. Then I loaned it to a friend, and she loved it. So I downloaded the audiobook.
And well, I had qualms about that, too. I’m generally leery of listening to a book read by its author. Authors are not actors, and a good read involves inflection, change of voices to play different parts, and so on. But memoirs are different. Reichl’s voice worked perfectly here, capturing just that little bit of New York, and doing it in a way that comfortably distinguished one character from another.
What did I love about this book? For starters, the subject matter is marvelous. Ruth Reichl was Editor-in-Chief of Gourmet magazine for the last eleven years of its treasured life. Yes, she gives a few recipes here, though they are pretty dry when read aloud. The book comes to life, though, when she tells the history of her lifelong love affair with food and her experience in the high stakes, celebrity-ridden world of Gourmet.
Second, naturally, I love publishing dirt because of my own involvement in publishing. Granted, I write fiction, not food magazines. Still, Reichl’s remarks about certain, uh, conventions are spot on – such as her description of lunches at the Four Seasons restaurant, where the best go to see, be seen, and be pandered to. I’ve eaten there with editors. I’ve seen how the waters part when a regular arrives.
Third, Reichl’s writing is as imaginative as her recipes. Whether waxing eloquent on lobster, mini-cupcakes, or the scent of a particularly unique mushroom, her description of food is vivid and creative.
Fourth and finally, Reichl has a sense of humor. SAVE ME THE PLUMS is entertaining – in part because she never takes herself too seriously. This is welcome in a memoir.
Five stars. Recommended!