November 20, 2020

Looking Back - Tender at the Bone

Looking Back... In an effort to transfer my book journal entries over to this blog, I'm going to attempt to post (in chronological order) an entry every Friday. I may or may not add extra commentary to what I jotted down in these journals. 

Nonfiction - Memoir
1999 Broadway Books (first published in 1998)
Read in January 2000
Rating: 3.5/5 (Good)

Publisher's Blurb:

At an early age, Ruth Reichl discovered that "food could be a way of making sense of the world. . . . If you watched people as they ate, you could find out who they were." Her deliciously crafted memoir, Tender at the Bone, is the story of a life determined, enhanced, and defined in equal measure by a passion for food, unforgettable people, and the love of tales well told. Beginning with Reichl's mother, the notorious food-poisoner known as the Queen of Mold, Reichl introduces us to the fascinating characters who shaped her world and her tastes, from the gourmand Monsieur du Croix, who served Reichl her first soufflé, to those at her politically correct table in Berkeley who championed the organic food revolution in the 1970s. Spiced with Reichl's infectious humor and sprinkled with her favorite recipes, Tender at the Bone is a witty and compelling chronicle of a culinary sensualist's coming-of-age.

My Original Thoughts (2000):

Good, but not great. Entertaining and funny. I enjoyed the first half more than the second. Preferred reading about her childhood. I would like to try some of the recipes, though. 

My Current Thoughts:

This may have been one of my earliest encounters with a "foodie" memoir. I remember laughing out loud at some of Reichl's childhood stories, especially those centered around her mother's cooking skills. The only other book I've read by Reichl is her novel, Delicious, but I have Save Me the Plums in my audio queue and hope to read that later next month.


  1. I enjoyed this one. Looking back at some of my comments, I found the quote about Aunt Birdie's birthday party organized by Ruth's mother (manic depressive) and laughed again at the last line.
    "I thought this was supposed to be a small party," I said.
    Dad sighed. "It's been growing."
    "But who could Mom possibly invite? Aunt Birdie's a hundred. Her friends are all dead."
    "Oh, she's made new friends. You know Birdie. And then your mother began thinking up people who might like to be her friend" (246)

    1. Jenclair, thanks for sharing that quote! There was quite a bit of humor in the book, wasn't there?

  2. I like that there's humor in the book. I may find a copy.

    1. Vicki, I think we could all use a little humor in our reading right about now. What a year!

  3. I read Tender at the Bone several years ago and really enjoyed it. So I read it again at the beginning of the pandemic because I needed to be reading things that made me laugh. (I still do.) It's amazing that she survived her mother's cooking and went on to become an icon in the foodie world.


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