Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir by Ruth Reichl - 2019
I grew up with Gourmet in the house, from as young as I can recall. My mother loved the magazine and had a subscription for many years. When she passed away I did not renew the subscription and Gourmet called and offered to renew for life for free, concerned over her failure to renew. This is a gesture of a bygone era. I always looked through the magazine. The recipes seemed very complicated, the photography was magnificent and the travel articles helped motivate me to eventually travel the world, always studying the food of any new place and researching interesting restaurants. Gourmet is now sadly out of business.
I knew I had to read Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir by Ruth Reichl as soon as Amazon suggested it to me. I added it to my wish list and last week when the Kindle edition was put on sale for $2.95, now back up to $13.95, I happily hit "acquire now".
Ruth Reichl,long time restaurant critic for The Los Angeles Times and a leading American food writer, in her New York Times best selling book, tells us the history of Gourmet, taking us behind the scenes, into their test kitchen, and details the business side of food magazines. Gourmet was by far the "classiest" food magazine. There was big money funding for the magazine from Conde Nash publishing, for many years, the owner had huge inherited wealth and was most focused on quality publications.
Reichl tells us about her shocked reaction when Gourmet offered her the job of editor, at six times her then salary. It meant she
as well as her husband and son would have to relocate to New York City. She had carte blanche to replace anyone on the staff of sixty. The details of her first encounter with her staff are fun to read. The atmosphere can be described fairly described as very elitist, socially snobish (think of the movie,The Devil Wears Prada).
Everyone Reichl describes seems very wealthy, privileged from birth. I hate to say this as maybe it is not fair to all, but they did sound like Mar A Logo members sometimes.
There were scenes I really liked. Her description of her visit to
Paris was a master work. She opens up about her challenges as a working mother. She offers us several elegant recipes.
I endorse this book for all who loved Gourmet Magazine.
"Ruth Reichl is the author of My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life, a cookbook published in September 2015. She was Editor in Chief of Gourmet Magazine from 1999 to 2009. Before that she was the restaurant critic of both The New York Times (1993-1999) and the Los Angeles Times (1984-1993), where she was also named food editor. As co-owner of The Swallow Restaurant from 1974 to 1977, she played a part in the culinary revolution that took place in Berkeley, California. In the years that followed, she served as restaurant critic for New West and California magazines.
Ms. Reichl began writing about food in 1972, when she published Mmmmm: A Feastiary. Since then, she has authored the critically acclaimed, best-selling memoirs Tender at the Bone, Comfort Me with Apples, Garlic and Sapphires, and For You Mom, Finally, which have been translated into 18 languages. In 2014 she published her first novel: Delicious!
Ms. Reichl hosted Eating Out Loud, three specials on Food Network, covering New York (2002), San Francisco (2003), and Miami (2003). She is the executive producer of Gourmet’s Diary of a Foodie, public television’s 30-episode series, which debuted in October 2006 and Executive Producer and host of Gourmet’s Adventures with Ruth, a 10-episode public television (2009.) She was also a judge on Top Chef Masters.
Ms. Reichl has been honored with 6 James Beard Awards (one for magazine feature writing and one for multimedia food journalism in 2009; two for restaurant criticism, in 1996 and 1998; one for journalism, in 1994; and Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America, 1984. In 2007, she was named Adweek’s Editor of the Year. She received the Missouri Honor Medal for Distinguished Service in Journalism, presented by the Missouri School of Journalism, in October 2007. Ms. Reichl received the 2008 Matrix Award for Magazines from New York Women in Communications, Inc., in April 2008. She holds a B.A. and an M.A. in the History of Art from the University of Michigan and lives in Upstate New York with her husband, Michael Singer, a television news producer." From ruthreichl.com