The Kitchen Reader: Tender at the Bone

May 29, 2010

This month’s selection for The Kitchen Reader is Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl, and it was selected by none other than me!  I read Garlic and Sapphires, Reichl’s stories of her days as the New York Times restaurant reviewer, and enjoyed it, so I wanted to read another one of her books.

Tender at the Bone starts when Reichl is a small child and ends when she’s about 30. She states up front that the stories are true but not necessarily factual. Well, if the book is even half true, she’s led quite an interesting life! It’s hard to sum it up and I don’t want to give anything away, but would it pique your interest if I told you that she spent part of her high school years in boarding school in Quebec? That after high school, she was a camp counselor in France? That she later moved to California and bought a house with a group of friends, turning it into a commune? Yes, she did all that and so much more.

Not surprisingly, one of the themes throughout her life is food. She started cooking and appreciating food at an early age, and some of the funniest stories are about her mother’s lack of cooking skills. Not so funny is her mother’s mental illness, which casts a shadow on Reichl and her father throughout her life. Funny stories, serious stories, and recipes sprinkled throughout make this an enjoyable book. She continues her story in Comfort Me with Apples and I can’t wait to see what comes next.


  1. This sounds like a great read…I just returned with a fresh stack of 8 books…may need to traipse back to see if I can order this one through the system. Thanks for the review.

  2. I LOVED LOVED LOVED this book. Thank you for such a fabulous choice! Ruth is a phenomenal writer-I read this in just a few days….I hope someone chooses “Comfort me with Apples” REALLY soon!!!!!

  3. This sounds like a great read – must check it out.

  4. This was my first Reichl book and I really enjoyed her writing. Thanks for the great choice. I plan to cook a few more of the recipes and post them over the next few days.

  5. I’ve always found Ruch Reichl to be a fascinating person, and this sounds like a really interesting book. Good choice! I miss Gourmet Magazine SO much and I hope that somehow it can be resurrected.

  6. Great choice! In some ways I liked that it was published about 10 years ago and stopped before she became THE Ruth Reichl that she is today. I’m so interested in reading her other books now to find out how the intervening years brought her up to now!

  7. I enjoyed reading this, also, and liked hearing how Ruth’s life evolved and revolved around food!

  8. I read garlic and sapphires and really wanted to read your choice this month but somehow time got away from me! so sorry. I’ve read a bunch of great reviews!

  9. Great choice, Jill. This is a classic food memoir and fun to read multiple times. I bet you she’ll write another one about her years at Gourmet years and the surprising end of the magazine. Do you follow her on Twitter? That’s pretty interesting, too – though she can be a little dramatic and “out there” sometimes, I think 🙂

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